Jane Kenyon

(1947-1995 / United States)

Portrait Of A Figure Near Water - Poem by Jane Kenyon

Rebuked, she turned and ran
uphill to the barn. Anger, the inner
arsonist, held a match to her brain.
She observed her life: against her will
it survived the unwavering flame.


The barn was empty of animals.
Only a swallow tilted
near the beams, and bats
hung from the rafters
the roof sagged between.


Her breath became steady
where, years past, the farmer cooled
the big tin amphoræ of milk.
The stone trough was still
filled with water: she watched it
and received its calm.


So it is when we retreat in anger:
we think we burn alone
and there is no balm.
Then water enters, though it makes
no sound.


Comments about Portrait Of A Figure Near Water by Jane Kenyon

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (12/15/2015 3:18:00 PM)

    It's official. With reading the last few poems and this one- I am a huge fan of Jane Kenyon. She is a master wordsmith- Anger, the inner
    arsonist, held a match to her brain. - - The stone trough was still
    filled with water: she watched it
    and received its calm. - - Then she closes the poem so briefly, clearly, lucid as the water she writes about. She died too young, God, we need her ilk on earth here guiding us (Report) Reply

    4 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010



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