Cover image for A hundred white daffodils : essays, the Akhmatova translations, newspaper columns, notes, interviews, and one poem
A hundred white daffodils : essays, the Akhmatova translations, newspaper columns, notes, interviews, and one poem
Kenyon, Jane.
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Publication Information:
Saint Paul, Minn. : Graywolf Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xii, 226 pages ; 24 cm
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PS3561.E554 H86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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"There is something in me that will not be snuffed out," Jane Kenyon told Bill Moyers in an interview. And there is no better proof of that than the overwhelming response her poetry generates. Kenyon's last collection, Otherwise: New & Selected Poems , remains a phenomenon: a best-seller that testifies to the impact Kenyon has had on the poetic landscape.

A Hundred White Daffodils is a companion volume that sheds illumination on a poet, and a woman, of great presence. It offers glimpses into a life cut too short and traces the influences that created Kenyon's poetic voice. The book includes Kenyon's translations of the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, and insights into how Kenyon chose her as a muse. It presents a variety of Kenyon's prose pieces about the writing life, her spiritual life, her country community, her gardens-- themes that readers will well rememberfrom her poems. Transcripts of interviews provide further understanding as Kenyon faces her struggle with depression and the losses wrought by illness. Finally, there is an unfinished, visionary poem that makes one wonder what might have been if Kenyon had been given the chance to create more poetry.

Including an introduction by Kenyon's husband and fellow poet, Donald Hall, and a bibliography of her publications, A Hundred White Daffodils is a gift to all those devoted to Kenyon's poetry.

Author Notes

Jane Kenyon is the author of five collections of poetry She lived and worked with her husband Donald Hall in Wilmot, New Hampshire, until her death in 1995

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Six years before her death in 1995, Kenyon began writing prose for publication, largely, explains her husband, Donald Hall, "because she could address her neighbors" through the New Hampshire newspaper the Concord Monitor. All but four of those columns appear here, along with similar pieces published in the magazine Yankee or previously unpublished. They are exquisite little essays, mostly on seasonal events, especially in the garden, for Kenyon was an ardent flower gardener. They are the heart of this companion to her deeply moving final selection of her poems, Otherwise (1997). They are accompanied by a reprinting of her translation Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova (1985); some notes on poetry and the arts in general; transcripts of three interviews concerned with her work and her lifelong endurance of clinical depression; and an uncompleted poem, "Woman, Why Are You Weeping?" about the crisis of faith roused by a tour of India. Although not as fine as her poems, these writings present her most appealingly--hopefully, even to those who don't know her verse. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

As carefully culled and tended as the New England flower gardens that Kenyon, a poet who died of leukemia in 1995, wrote about with such bone-aching clarity, this collection of sundry, posthumous prose and poetry illuminates a little-known corner of her oeuvre. Kenyon's introduction to the Akhmatova translations is discouraging: she offers a tepid account of Akhmatova's life and ends with disclaimer upon disclaimer warning that Akhmatova's trademark "beautiful clarity" will be lost in her English renditions. What a thrill, then, to find such beauty and density of feeling in the skillfully controlled translations. Kenyon's sharply realized if understated short essays originally published in a local New Hampshire newspaper are also noteworthy; in them, she revisits the terrain of her poems, particularly such themes as religion, gardening and the regenerative force of nature. In the transcripts of Kenyon's interviews with Bill Moyers, David Bradt and Marian Blue, there is a determined poignancy. The woman who comes to life in these pages is witty, guileless, humble and heartbreakingly intelligent. One is left wanting more, as if continuing the interviews could restore this vibrant person to life. The final installment in this volume is the unfinished poem, "Woman Why Are You Weeping," startling in its deft foray into religious faith, Third-World crisis and race relations. Like much of Kenyon's work, it is at once irresistible and devastating. It is quite clear why the poet felt such kinship for Akhmatova, for she, too, has achieved a "beautiful clarity." (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When Kenyon died of leukemia in 1995, colleagues and fans alike were left bereft. This posthumous collection includes short essays, interviews, a few of Kenyon's translations of the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, and one unfinished poem. Accessible, earnest, and devoid of urbane ironies, the essays focus mostly on either her small (New England) country community or her garden, examining her growing spiritual life and what it is to live while things are going on inside without one's knowledge or consent. Also covered are notions of writing, facing her own and her husband's bouts with cancer, and, in one of the interviews, a discussion of her struggle with depression. The book succeeds in illuminating a poet and woman of remarkable presence. Recommended for all libraries.ÄScott Hightower, Fordham Univ., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Donald HallJack Kelleher
Introductionp. ix
I Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova
II Gardens, the Church, and a Mountain
"Good-by and Keep Cold"p. 43
The Moment of Peoniesp. 46
The Phantom Prunerp. 48
Notes of a Novice Hikerp. 51
South Danbury Church Fairp. 58
Childhood, When You Are in Itp. 61
Gabriel's Truthp. 70
III Talking to Neighbors
Edna Powersp. 75
Estonia and New Hampshirep. 77
The Mailboxp. 82
Season of Change and Lossp. 85
Every Year the Lightp. 88
The Five-and-Dimep. 91
A Gardener of the True Vinep. 94
Summer Comes Alivep. 98
The Physics of Long Sticksp. 101
The Honey Wagonp. 104
Bulbs Planted in the Fallp. 107
A Day to Loafp. 110
A Garden of My Dreamsp. 112
The Mud Will Dryp. 114
The Shadowsp. 117
Dreams of Mathp. 120
Snakes in This Grass?p. 123
Reflections on a Roadside Warningp. 126
Poetry and the Mailp. 128
IV Notes on Literature and the Arts
Kicking the Eggsp. 133
A Proposal for New Hampshire Writersp. 136
Thoughts on the Gifts of Artp. 138
Notes for a Lecture: "Everything I Know About Writing Poetry"p. 139
V Interviews
An Interview with Bill Moyersp. 145
An Interview with David Bradtp. 172
An Interview with Marian Bluep. 185
VI A Poem
Woman, Why Are You Weeping?p. 205
Bibliographyp. 211