Selected Poems [Hazel Hall]
Hall belongs to the modern generation Though she was not especially innovative in technique, it is her steely. hard look at the world that saves her poems from the excesses of rornanticism. She accepted the facts of her life, damaging though they were. Hall was an invalid, confined to a wheelchair from the age of twelve after a bout with scarlet fever. Her days were spent in an upstairs room of a large house at 52 Lucretia Place in Portland, Oregon. She never left this room. Despite this, she corresponded with admirers such as William Braithwaite of the Boston Transcript, who published her poems in Contemporary Verse, Harold Vinal, who invited her to become a contributing editor of Voices, and Harriet Monroe, who awarded her the Young Poet’s Prize from Poetry magazine in 1921.
The full text of Hazel Hall’s Selected Poems is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.
A Baby’s Dress
It is made of finest linen—
Sheer as wasp-wings;
It is made with a flowing panel
Down the front,
All overrun with fagot-stitched bow-knots
Holding hours and hours
Of fairy-white forget-me-nots.
And it is finished.
To-night, crisp with new pressing
It lies stiffly in its pasteboard box
Smothered in folds of tissue paper
Which envelope it like a shroud—
In its coffin-shaped pasteboard box.
To-morrow a baby will wear it at a christening;
To-morrow the dead-white of its linen
Will glow with the tint of baby skin;
And out of its filmy mystery
There will reach
But to-night the lamplight plays over it and finds it cold.
Like the flower-husk of a little soul,
Which, new-lived, has fluttered to its destiny,
It lies in its coffin-shaped pasteboard box.
To-morrow will make it what hands cannot:
Limp and warm with babyness,
A hallowed thing,
A baby’s dress.
Copyright © 1980 by Hazel Hall
Published by Ahsahta in 1980, the poems of Hazel Hall originally appeared in three published volumes: Curtains (1921), Walkers (1923), and City of Time (1928). Hall had an exceptionally short period of productivity. Born in 1886, she published her first poem at the age of thirty. Her poetry appeared in Poetry, Dial, Harper’s, Yale Review, The Nation, Literary Review, Lyric, Contemporary Verse, and Bookman before her work slipped into obscurity. Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry, awarded Hall the Young Poet’s Prize in 1921. Hall was confined to a wheelchair from the age of twelve after a bout of scarlet fever. Although her days were spent in an upstairs room of a large house in Portland, Oregon, her poetry has a vivid richness that extends outside her room and even her own time. Her sonnets are reminiscent of Edna St. Vincent Millay’s, although more gentle in their mental and emotional lacerations. Her world is absolutely feminine—achingly interior, forgotten, small and delicate—and absolutely razor sharp, clearly making her a modern poet.