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
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