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Rachel Hadas


Born on November 8, 1948, Rachel Hadas is the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and translations, including Questions in the Vestibule: Poems (Triquarterly, 2016);The River of Forgetfulness (Wordtech Communications, 2006), and Halfway Down the Hall: New & Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), which was a finalist for the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize given by the Academy of American Poets.

Hadas studied classics at Harvard University, poetry at Johns Hopkins, and comparative literature at Princeton University. She spent four years in Greece between college and graduate school, an experience that surfaces in much of her work.

Since 1981 she has taught in the English Department of the Newark, New Jersey campus of Rutgers University, and has taught occasional courses in literature and writing at both Columbia and Princeton universities. She has also served as faculty of the Sewanee Writers' Conference.

About Hadas's work, the poet Grace Schulman has written, "The poems are urgent, contemplative, and finely wrought. In them, antiquity illuminates the present as Rachel Hadas finds in ordinary human acts 'what never was and what is eternal.'"

Among her honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, and an award in literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York City.

Selected Bibliography

Living in Time (Rutgers University Press, 1990)
Mirrors of Astonishment (Rutgers University Press, 1992)
The Empty Bed (Wesleyan University Press, 1995)
Halfway Down the Hall: New & Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1998)
Indelible (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)
Laws (Zoo Press, 2004)
The River of Forgetfulness (Wordtech Communications, 2006)
The Ache of Appetite (Copper Beech Press, 2010)
The Golden Road (Triquarterly, 2012)
Questions in the Vestibule: Poems (Triquarterly, 2016)

The Double Legacy (Faber & Faber, 1995)
Talking to the Dead (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2015)

Rachel Hadas
Photo credit: Chip Simons

By This Poet


Dawn Dreams

Dreams draw near at dawn and then recede
even if you beckon them.
They loom like demons
you tug by the tail to examine from up close
and then let fly away.
Their colors at once brighter and less bright
than you remembered, they
hover and insinuate all day
at the corner of your eye.

Summer Nights and Days

So far the nights feel lonelier than the days.
In light, the living keep me company,
and memories of voices through the years.

Each summer threads a green familiar maze.
Emerging sun-struck, you can barely spy
the slow kaleidoscope of clouds and hours.

Those flannel nightshirts chilly sleepers wear
as summer wanes: I'm giving them away.
Pass it on: you keep at the same time.

A bough has broken from the Duchess tree.
Rain swelled the apples. Too much lightness weighs
heavy: the heft of the idea of home
tempered with the detachment of a dream,
or tidal pulls, like ocean, like moonrise.


When my son was a few weeks old,
replicas of his yawning face appeared
suddenly on drowsy passersby:

middle-aged man’s gape that split his beard,
old woman on a bus, a little girl—
all told a story that I recognized.

Now he is fifteen.
As my students shuffle in the door
of the classroom, any of the boys

could easily be him—
foot-dragging, also swaggering a little,
braving the perils of a public space

by moving in a wary little troop.
But the same sleepy eyes, the same soft face.
We recognize the people whom we love,

or love what we respond to as our own,
trusting that one day someone
will look at us with recognition.

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