Not Left Comfortless

Jane Kenyon’s luminous poem, “Let Evening Come,” isn’t a winter poem, nor is it – as it as is often used – a funeral poem. I read it as a standing invitation back to the beauty of the real, a call as welcome at year’s end as at close of day. The dark settles as it will, but we aren’t left comfortless. There’s no reason to fear. What we call “nature” or “the environment” – as if these words name something that doesn’t include us – teems with creatures that need no such reminder. Humans apparently do.

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.

From Otherwise, by Jane Kenyon, Graywolf Press, 1996.

Image: The Song of the Lark, Jules Breton, 1884.

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