I took the blanket in...

Jane Kenyon


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,
and a green haze on the south-sloping hills.
Clouds rose over the mountain....At dusk
I took the blanket in, and we slept,
restless, under its fragrant weight.


“Wash” is a fine poem, a beautiful work – and I might even call it a great poem. But, either way - and I don't have any idea of the poem’s history - I don’t believe Kenyon decided to write this poem when she walked outside her house in New Hampshire on a particular day. It overwhelmed her. The poem was already there – moving in the air around her. I took the blanket in... She wrote it down. Her way, her hand.

A singer can hit the note F above middle C, for example, because it already exists. If it didn’t exist already, she couldn’t create it, she couldn’t sing it. The guitar, the trumpet... It’s the same.

The fact that Miles Davis was such a great trumpet player had, by his own admission, nothing to do with practice or craft. He was a great player because he was a great listener.


Collin said...

I love Kenyon, but this poem does very little for me. It cuts way too close to the dreaded "little birdies flying past the window" esthetic that makes me want to kill so-called nature poets.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

There is a nanture sensibility in this piece - and I think if this poem had been written at more typical Kenyon length of a page, it would have toppled over, would have collapsed under its own weight. I do see your point, Collin. This piece does cut close. I agree, but for me it doesn't cross over.

LKD said...

I like it.

I like how innocuous the poem is, and yet how loaded.

The blanket snaps. That spring wind is, unexpectedly, hot. The flies' feet are sticky.
Clouds rise over the mountain.

And then, there's the hinge.

That word that the whole poem hangs on and swings on.


Beneath that blanket that spent the whole day outside, beneath its fragrant weight, still, their sleep is characterized as restless.

The poem is so small and so loaded.

Thanks for posting this, sir.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Small but loaded - that's true. And I think restless is the key word. Thanks for the read, Laurel.