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.
From Otherwise: New & Selected Poems by Jane Kenyon, published by Graywolf Press. Copyright © 1996 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Used with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. All rights reserved.
A second crop of hay lies cut and turned. Five gleaming crows search and peck between the rows. They make a low, companionable squawk, and like midwives and undertakers possess a weird authority. Crickets leap from the stubble, parting before me like the Red Sea. The garden sprawls and spoils. Across the lake the campers have learned to water-ski. They have, or they haven’t. Sounds of the instructor’s megaphone suffuse the hazy air. “Relax! Relax!” Cloud shadows rush over drying hay, fences, dusty lane, and railroad ravine. The first yellowing fronds of goldenrod brighten the margins of the woods. Schoolbooks, carpools, pleated skirts; water, silver-still, and a vee of geese. * The cicada’s dry monotony breaks over me. The days are bright and free, bright and free. Then why did I cry today for an hour, with my whole body, the way babies cry? * A white, indifferent morning sky, and a crow, hectoring from its nest high in the hemlock, a nest as big as a laundry basket.... In my childhood I stood under a dripping oak, while autumnal fog eddied around my feet, waiting for the school bus with a dread that took my breath away. The damp dirt road gave off this same complex organic scent. I had the new books—words, numbers, and operations with numbers I did not comprehend—and crayons, unspoiled by use, in a blue canvas satchel with red leather straps. Spruce, inadequate, and alien I stood at the side of the road. It was the only life I had.
Jane Kenyon, "Three Songs at the End of Summer" from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Graywolf Press, graywolfpress.org.
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden Daffodils;
Beside the Lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:—
A Poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:
For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.
This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on October 1, 2017. This poem is in the public domain.