Sunday, April 4, 2010

Rural Poet #1: Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon was born in Ann Arbor and attended the University of Michigan. After earning both a B.A. and an M.A., Jane married Donald Hall, and the pair moved to Eagle Pond Farm in New Hampshire.

A fly wounds the water but the wound
soon heals. Swallows tilt and twitter
overhead, dropping now and then toward
the outward-radiating evidence of food.

from The Pond at Dusk

Kenyon's poems about this time period vacillate between two extremes: awe at the beauty of the wild world around her, and acute depression, caused by the loneliness of rural life.

I move from room to room,
a little dazed, like the fly. I watch it
bump against each window.

I am clumsy here, thrusting
slabs of maple into the stove.

from From Room to Room

Depression would continue to haunt Kenyon throughout her short lifetime. But in her work, what rises to the top, what endures, is her ability to render in spare, perfect detail the simple pleasures of rural life.

On the floor of the woodshed
the coldest imaginable ooze,
and soon the first shoots
of asparagus will rise,
the fingers of Lazarus....

Earth's open wounds--where the plow
gouged the ground last November--
must be smoothed; some sown
with seed, and all forgotten.

from Mud Season

For further reading:


Bridgette said...

Hi, i am currently working on a english blog project about Jane Kenyon and i find your blog very insightful. My blog is similar to yours because I also emphasized about how her poetry was affected by her depression however, I also wrote about the influence her diagnosis of cancer had on her life and work. It is also intresting to look at her poetry through a new historical perspective because a lot of connections can be found between her poetry and the time period she wrote it in.

Katie Cappello said...

Thanks for the comment, Bridgette. I completely agree. I admire her ability to write about her illnesses with clarity, and without glossing over the hard stuff. Where can I read your blog?