Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon Poems

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
...

1FROM THE NURSERY


When I was born, you waited
...

There's just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
...

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
...

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .
...

I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.

Now there is no more catching
...

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping.
Wind moves the leaves of the box elder;
...

Like primitives we buried the cat
with his bowl. Bare-handed
we scraped sand and gravel
back into the hole.
...

I scrub the long floorboards
in the kitchen, repeating
the motions of other women
who have lived in this house.
...

The dog has cleaned his bowl
and his reward is a biscuit,
which I put in his mouth
like a priest offering the host.
...

11.

All day the blanket snapped and swelled
on the line, roused by a hot spring wind....
From there it witnessed the first sparrow,
early flies lifting their sticky feet,
...

Now wind torments the field,
turning the white surface back
on itself, back and back on itself,
like an animal licking a wound.
...

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?
...

'Give me some light!' cries Hamlet's
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. 'Light! Light!' cry scattering
...

Christ has been done to death
in the cold reaches of northern Europe
a thousand thousand times.
Suddenly bread
...

I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your gravy boat,
...

The shirt touches his neck
and smooths over his back.
It slides down his sides.
...

Her sickness brought me to Connecticut.
Mornings I walk the dog: that part of life
is intact. Who's painted, who's insulated
...

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
...

Drugged and drowsy but not asleep
I heard my blind roommate's daughter
helping her with her meal:
...

The Best Poem Of Jane Kenyon

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Jane Kenyon Comments

Karen Hill 15 April 2018

I remembered this poem, Let Evening Come, when I heard that a dear friend's mother had passed at 98 years old, quietly in her bed, as her daughter was reading to her. This poet died at a relatively young age herself, and I admire the directness and deep feeling of her work. I am sending the poem to my friend.

1 0 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 15 December 2015

Bibliography: Jane Kenyon: Collected Poems (Graywolf Press,2005) A Hundred White Daffodils (Graywolf Press,1999) Otherwise: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press,1996) Constance (Graywolf Press,1993) Let Evening Come (Graywolf Press,1990) The Boat of Quiet Hours (Graywolf Press,1986) From Room to Room (Alice James Books,1978)

10 1 Reply
Fabrizio Frosini 15 December 2015

(I.) Jane Kenyon (May 23,1947 – April 22,1995) was an American poet and translator. Her work is often characterized as simple, spare, and emotionally resonant. Kenyon was the second wife of poet, editor, and critic Donald Hall who made her the subject of many of his poems. Kenyon was born in 1947 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the Midwest. She earned a B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an M.A. in 1972. She won a Hopwood Award at Michigan. Also, while a student at the University of Michigan, Kenyon met the poet Donald Hall; though he was some nineteen years her senior, she married him in 1972, and they moved to Eagle Pond Farm, his ancestral home in Wilmot, New Hampshire. Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate when she died Saturday April 22,1995 from leukemia. [Wikipedia]

10 0 Reply

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