Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Ode to People Magazine

I'm posting my poetry choice of the week a day early because, well, the 2 hour season finale of Lost is tonight and I won't have much time for blogging. Writing my Poetry Thursday post seemed like the quickest and easiest entry to make.

One of my favorite things to do is take myself on a date to Barnes and Noble. I'll curl up in one of the oversized chairs and flip through magazine after magazine. I can do this for hours. I usually don't read any of the articles. I just like to look at the pictures. I love images and magazines feed my image craving. Say what you will about the evils of advertising, there's no denying they offer some damn good images. One such evening, some time back, I was flipping through an issue of People (yes I like images of celebrities too, especially if that celebrity happens to be Jake Gyllenhaal) and a book review caught my eye. It was about a new collection of poetry by Jane Kenyon. I wasn't familiar with Kenyon's work but the poem printed in People really grabbed my heart. Since then this collection has been on my wish list. Only available in hardback, I figured it would be some time before I was actually able to own a copy. When I received a very generous gift certificate from Trey's dad for my birthday this book was the second one I wrapped my arms around after sweeping up a copy of the very popular Eat, Pray, Love--which I am loving!.

For the past week I have been opening the pages of this collection and randomly reading some of Kenyon's work. I still don't know much about her other than the little snippet offered on the book's jacket but her words truly resound in my depths. Her language is accessible, her images are easy to relate to, and her subtle metaphors tap on my heart, begging me to sit up, pay attention, and take another look. It just goes to show that you never know what might fall into your lap while flipping through People magazine. Who said People was nothing but tabloid trash?

ps--If you happen to be familiar with Kenyon's work and know anything about the story of her life please pass it along in your comments.

Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon

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.


Blogger melba said...


(Can you tell I type by looking at the keys? I am not of these days I will have to improve my typing skills)

Have you ever read the Conversations with God books by Neale Donald Walsh? If you have, I am interested in knowing what you think of them.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a little something about Kenyon.

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Jeris said...

I grew up on a farm, and wow, does this poem evoke memories of home. I live in the city now, where, it seems, the quietness of evening never really does come. I sometimes sit inside my closet (the most quiet place in my house, though I can never truly escape the sounds of the city) and try to imagine those images of nature (like the sun setting against the barn). It's amazing to be aware of all the quiet beauty that exists in the world, even when our surroundings may suggest otherwise.

7:48 PM  
Blogger kerry said...

a teacher of mine told me to look up jane kenyon, and i went to the library that afternoon, found her book Otherwise, and sat down and read it cover to cover. and then just a few months ago i got to go to a poetry reading as a tribute to her - and her husband Donald Hall read some of her work. it was a truly amazing experience. he spoke about their marriage in such a beautiful way, he shared some of their inside jokes, some of their patterns and some of their shared heartache. she was much much younger than him, and they both would write - but in separate rooms in the house, and rarely talked about what they were writing with one another, but every once in a while would leave a copy of something they had been working hard on, somewhere on the other's desk for some unspoken editing. it was sweet, the way he described their love and respect for one another. he talked about her struggle with bipolar disorder, which is pretty evident in some of her work. from my own experience, i felt as though her poems were right on about the depression. there are some lines or sentences of her that i hold close to my heart, i may go back through some of her stuff and get back to you with some of those. thanks for brining her up - it is good for my soul to be reconnected to her work.

7:52 PM  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Love the image of you curled up at Barnes & Noble with a stack of magazines! I do love to do that too, and it does feel like a guilty pleasure for some reason! I've been a bit behind on my blog reading and I just read back over your last few entries -- I love the idea of the journal round robin! Sign me up! (And I loved hearing that my Sunday Scribblings prompt got you thinking!)

8:59 PM  
Blogger Deb R said...

I feel sure I've read this poem, but I don't remember when or where. I'm so glad you posted it. It's serenely beautiful.

10:06 PM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

I love the poem. I also love to go to B&N and read magazines ~ it used to be my favorite Sunday thing to do.

4:19 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

i have never read
this woman's work
but it certainly does
speak to you
and whisper images
into your ear.

thanks for sharing it...

5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great choice. the last line says it all.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Colorsonmymind said...


8:08 AM  
Blogger mab said...

WOW such images Kenyon evokes...she is awesome! I love the bookstores too; I get lost for hours and hours; love the smell of pages and ink...(crazy huh?) makes me know I'm around the best thing I love, writing and books. (crazy writer talk, lol)


10:02 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

This is awesome. Her words make you feel the dew gathering close about you and the resulting chill as the moist air cools your skin. It brings a sense of peace as the quietness of evening sets in.

Thanks for sharing it, Michelle.

10:05 AM  
Anonymous AndiMae said...

What a beautiful poem! I love reading magazines at Barnes and Noble too- its one of my favorite things to do when my husband offers to stay home with the baby so I can have "me" time :)

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall lived a couple of towns over from me-- in Danbury, NH-- I believe he still lives there-- so they've both been a pretty big presence in these parts-- I loved the title of one of his books, "String too short to be saved" and he explains the title straight off as something he saw written on a box in his grandparent's attic holding bits of string. ha.

Loved this piece you chose-- god does it ever show the power of the specific.


10:26 AM  
Blogger Visual-Voice said...

the power of just being... allowing it to happen. thanks for introducing me to this one.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous petal said...

Beautiful. Beautiful.

Especially when I have struggled with severe depression (pre- and post- partum) I would go to Barnes and Noble to connect with who I am. And what I love.

I called it my church.

4:17 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Hi Michelle,
I don't know if I ever told you but you were one of two moms I mentioned in my Mother's Day tribute post:

And today Tracey at mentioned you, too.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous samantha said...

GOD HAVE MERCY it's beautiful. People magazine is a bringer of ALL good things.

I especially love "God will not leave us comfortless". Amen, sister.

8:28 PM  
Blogger baylor said...

A beautiful poem! B&N is easily one of my favorite places in the worl!


12:35 PM  
Blogger Sky said...

About Jane:

A world renowned poet and writer who had spent time at Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, Donald Hall was a professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He had been divorced (with 2 kids) for about 3 years when he met Jane, 20+ years his junior, a student in one of his classes. She applied for membership in a writing group he led, and they eventually fell in love and married. After 3 years of married life in Ann Arbor, they moved to the Wilmot/Danbury, NH home called Eagle Pond Farm which belonged to Donald's grandparents and where he had summered in his childhood. They loved their life there - writing in their own space, meeting during the day for meals and love, becoming active in the community, joining a church, and being near relatives.

In the late '80s Donald was diagnosed with colon cancer which metastasized to his liver within a few years. He was quite ill, and many did not expect him to recover. Following surgery and chemo he went into remission. Within 14 months of this serious health crisis, Jane who seemed fully healthy, was diagnosed with a deadly form of leukemia. They sought stem cell transplant here in Seattle. It was successful, but Jane's leukemia was a rare type which did not remain in remission. It could not be stopped. During her illness both his mother and her mother died. Jane died in April of 1995 at home in the painted bed they slept in.

Donald has written The Painted Bed, Without, and The Best Day, The Worst Day, all detailing this period of time. He was left broken-hearted and spent several years in deep pain and isolation, writing poems to and about Jane, unable to find joy. He had devoted himself to her care for 15 months. Gus, their dog who adored Jane, died a few years later and is buried near Jane.

Donald is now on the lecture circuit again, writing, and also actually spending time with a companion who lives on this coast, I believe. In a note I received from him recently he said that nothing will ever compare to his life with Jane - she was indeed the true love of his life - but he has begun to live and find new joy. His newest book of poetry just came out in April, White Apples and the Taste of Stone.

Jane and Donald both served at different times as Poet Laureates of NH. Bill Moyers did a wonderful film about them called A Life Together, an Emmy-winning documentary which you can order. Jane's posthumous book, 100 White Daffodils contains prose, poetry and articles she wrote for the local paper in NH.

Their story is fascinating, their work divine. There is a picture of them and a post about them in my archives of January 9, 2006, called Some Leave Us Too Soon.

12:40 PM  

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