Saturday, February 14, 2015


"When I was a child, I loved old people. My New Hampshire grandfather was my model human being. He wasn't old. He was in his sixties and early seventies when I hayed with him, only seventy-seven when he died, but of course I thought he was old. He was a one-horse farmer - Riley was his horse - with an old-fashioned multiple farm. He raised cattle and sheep and chickens, with hives for bees and a sugarhouse for boiling sap into maple syrup. He worked every day all year, mostly from five a.m. to seven or eight at night - milking, lambing, fencing, logging, spreading manure, planting, weeding, haying, harvesting, each night locking up chickens against foxes. Summers I helped with farm work and listened to him reminisce. All year he walked rapidly from one task to another, in his good nature smiling a private half smile as he remembered stories, or recited to himself the poems he had memorized for school.


After a life of loving the old, by natural law I turned old myself. Decades followed each other - thirty was terrifying, forty I never noticed because I was drunk, fifty was best with a total change of life, sixty began to extend the bliss of fifty - and then came my cancers, Jane's death, and over the years I traveled to another universe. However alert we are, however much we think we know what will happen, antiquity remains an unknown, unanticipated galaxy. It is alien, and old people are a separate form of life. They have green skin, with two heads that sprout antennae. They can be pleasant, they can be annoying - in the supermarket, these old ladies won't get out of my way - but most important they are permanently other. When we turn eighty, we understand that we are extraterrestrial. If we forget for a moment that we are old, we are reminded when we try to stand up, or when we encounter someone young, who appears to observe green skin, extra heads, and protuberances."

- from Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall (US Poet Laureate, 2006-2007)


Blogger Rosh said...

profound. im going to have to look this up.

what else are you reading and watching these days? would love some recommendations. i watched de niro's "everybody's fine" a while back after reading your review here. such a great and effective movie. saw an interview where de niro was asked what his favorite movie he had done was. he mentioned he was proud of this one even though a lot of people hadn't seen it and it didn't receive a wider distribution somehow. funny how the movie world works sometimes. i hope more people see it.

8:13 PM  
Blogger karrvakarela said...

It's an engaging book. Donald Hall has lived a life rich in experience and he writes with a light touch.

To be honest, I can't remember the last good movie I watched. Netflix has made binge-watchers of us all . . .

3:59 PM  

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