In checking the text of this poem, I was surprised to discover that Hall evidently revised the poem, as it appears in The Alligator Bride, when it was republished a year later in Robert Bly‘s 1970 anthology, Forty Poems Touching on Recent American History. I imagine the changes were made at Bly’s suggestion—poet to poet, friend to friend….
The Man In The Dead Machine
High on a slope in New Guinea the Grumman Hellcat lodges among bright vines as thick as arms.I n 1942, the clenched hand of a pilot glided it here where no one has ever been.In the cockpit the helmeted skeleton sits upright, held by dry sinews at neck and shoulder, and webbing that straps the pelvic cross to the cracked leather of the seat, and the breastbone to the canvas cover of the parachute. Or say the shrapnel missed him, he flew back to the carrier, and every morning takes the train, his pale hands on the black case, and sits upright, held by the firm webbing.
Adios, Donald Hall
this one will have to do for now, despite its peculiarities. This non sequitur, for example: “An opponent of the Vietnam war, he was ruthlessly self-critical.” Or: “He met Daniel Ellsberg and would suspect well before others that the leaker of the Vietnam war documents known as the Pentagon Papers was his college friend.” Well, we are in the realm of journalistic deadlines, and even major new outlets have experienced cuts on the editorial side. *** And in the time it took me to write the above, the following and others have appeared, with various improvements and fresh information: http://www.concordmonitor.com/Donald-Hall-Poet-Laureate-Wilmot-NH-18399476 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/24/obituaries/donald-hall-a-poet-laureate-of-the-rural-life-is-dead-at-89.html http://www.therepublic.com/2018/06/24/us-obit-poet-donald-hall/ Paris Review Interview with Peter Stitt, “The Art of Poetry No. 43” *** I first read Donald Hall when I picked up his 1969 collection The Alligator Bride: Poems New and Selected circa 1973 on a remainder table in the book department of The Denver Dry Goods store in downtown Denver. I was working at a B. Dalton Store on 16th Street, and “The Denver” was just down the street, with its haphazard selection of best sellers, travel books, cookbooks, and literary oddities. It was at The Denver that I’d picked up—always on sale, since I was a lowly bookstore clerk—George Seferis‘s Poems, translated by Rex Warner; Lawrence Durrell‘s memoir of his years on Cyprus, Bitter Lemons; and William Alfred‘s play in blank verse, Hogan’s Goat. In other words, The Denver book department’s oddity aligned with my own. Anyway, among my favorites in Hall’s book was this Poe-ish poem, which remains a favorite even today:We shall have to wait for the better-written obituaries, but