and don't be afraid...

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.


This is the sort of work I would want to trail behind me. One can always hope - Even when it doesn't, it could happen.


Pris said...

Ohh...I don't blame you. Gentle and beautiful.

Collin Kelley said...

Lady Jane. She's one of my muses. Love her and esp. love this poem. We should all aspire to this greatness.

Anonymous said...

Man I love this poem, thank you for posting it. It is absolutely amazing - so simple and so completely full. The quietness of it, and the richness of the images makes me sit for it, patiently, then feel so sated.

I, too, long to get it out like this. And the farm aspect...no better place to use as the scene.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I use this poem in Lifelong learning classes on poetry appreciation. It's one of the most requested poems at the library where I work.

Don @ Issa's Untidy Hut

LKD said...

"God does not leave us comfortless"

For as many times as I've read this poem--and I've read it many, many times since I first fell in love with Kenyon's clear, unwavering voice a few years ago--,I've never (and it staggers me to admit this) processed, for lack of a better word, that line about god.

I've been a non-believer for years and years now. I've missed believing in god for all those years. Maybe "seeing" that line for the first time after knowing and loving this poem for all these years is a sign.

Maybe god really will re-enter my life someday.

Thanks for posting this poem, Sam. It always comforts me to read it. Soothes me. I think I'm going to email it to my mother. She could use a little comfort right now.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

LKD (and Sam):

I've always felt the same way about that line. It even caused me to hesitate in using it in a poetry appreciation class. But I went ahead anyway.

It feels to me that this is poem of acceptance of final things. Nobody, believer or not, knows what happens after events like the one portrayed here. I have a more pantheistic view of things and feel it is just a returning to what we were/are, where we came from. I don't think that that thought and the word god are necessarily in conflict and I believe Kenyon would agree.


sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for reading, Pris, Collin & Melissa. And Laurel, I can see how one would miss believing. Thanks for reading. And Don, Kenyon's poem is one readers quickly identify with and enter. I like your thoughts of what we were & are.

M. C. Allan said...

When I find the word "God" in a poem, I always find myself momentarily stopped, maybe because it seems like another one of those "big" concepts like "death" or "time" or "love." Some poems can't survive it (though I fully feel that the fault is mine, being an agnostic). But with a poem as laden with perfect, here-and-now detail and this delicate gravitas, I can go ahead with it and accept the "God" in it as whatever it is in life (the passage of time? the way things continue regardless of our grief?) that "does not leave us comfortless." It's something, even if "God" wouldn't be my word for it. It's Kenyon's, and since I feel the rest of her words here are so fully true, I can believe in this one too.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Interesting point, MC. Thanks for reading.