SEASONS AT EAGLE POND by Donald Hall

SEASONS AT EAGLE POND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In an essay for each of the four seasons, the well-known poet (and author of the recent story volume, The Ideal Bakery, 1987) takes a Frost- and Thoreau-touched look at the place that's come to be home: Eagle Pond, New Hampshire. Some may find Hall treading close to the smalltown-saccharine in his good-neighbor descriptions of church suppers, flea market auctions, and Fourth of July breakfasts; or close to a blithely cloying self-contentment in his references to poets and to the hard-but-happy work involved in writing the stuff. When his themes deepen, however, he achieves a richness and grace in this slim and artfully woven country volume that will invite readers to return over and again to many of its passages and pages. Having lived for ten years on the remains of the farm that his grandparents once worked and that he himself visited in his boyhood summers, Hall wondrously captures the lost echoes of the farm's history-touched past and with a quiet irony limns what's left of that history in the present. There are memories of summertime haying, of calves being born, of indoor plumbing first being installed (in 1938)--and the image of a manure cart still standing in the exact spot in the barn where Hall's grandfather left it ""in April of 1950,"" shortly before his death. ""It was not only a farm in the country I went to,"" writes Hall; ""it was an entire dying world."" The barns are now long empty and the animals gone, but some of the poet's grandmother's rosebushes still blossom each spring, the sun still warms the hushed upstairs bedrooms in summer, and first frost still touches the vegetable-laden gardens in the fall. ""I live among a population, extraordinary in our culture,"" Hall concludes, ""that lives where it lives because it loves its place. . . There's no reason to live here except for love."" Allowing for its thin spots, a feast-rich paean to what we still have left of the past. For its many readers: who will be grateful and charmed.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1987
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin