Jane Kenyon (1947–1995) is a poet of simplicity. She wrote rural poems about hayfields, and ponds and taking the dog for a walk. She married American poet Donald Hall in 1972, and moved with him from Michigan to New Hampshire. During her last few months she captured that time in fine poems, such as “Otherwise” and “The Sick Wife”, which speak of her months of illness prior to dying of leukemia.
Her poems never sermonize, but are reflections on nature, scripture and family life. Otherwise, her new and selected poems, is one of my favourite volumes of poetry. The following poem, title poem of her third book, demonstrates well her clear images and controlled voice.
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 crickets 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.
Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: www.dsmartin.ca