” Let it come, as it will, and don’t/ be afraid.”


(poetry diary 16) The other night, to soothe myself before sleep, I was exploring the Academy of American Poets sampler of Poems about Night.  I re-found Jane Kenyon’s “Let Evening Come” there, a poem I’d read before and loved but hadn’t thought of for a while.

 I’m glad to have rediscovered it, as we’ve been dealing with tough issues re: aging relatives and I’m nervous about what will happen to my mind in my own old age, or whenever it is that I meet my end. Now that this poem is back in my life I feel better armed.  This is especially due to its last stanza, which can be read through the link below the excerpt:

Let Evening Come

Jane Kenyon, 19471995

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.
Read rest of poem at Poets.org

I was amused to read in Keith Taylor’s Michigan Quarterly article THE PRESENCE OF JANE KENYON, (Fall 2006,) that this poem was quoted in the movie In Her Shoes. Kenyon and the poem itself were not credited, though. (Click here to see Cameron Diaz’s character read Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Art of Losing” in another scene from the movie.) Taylor also writes about the way that the poem is usually read:

Although this reading, the immediate association of evening with death, limits the possibilities of this poem, I suspect that Kenyon might be pleased to find that her work has served as a consolation to many people at difficult moments. She might be less pleased to find that poem the subject of what must be several hundred essays written each term in undergraduate writing courses, where the assignment is to compare and contrast “Let Evening Come” with Dylan Thomas’s “Do Not Go Gentle.” 

I’m not sure from the article or otherwise why he’s intimating that having one’s poem studied in schools and compared to one of the great poems in the English language is a bad thing? Oh, well.


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