This is a photo of Jane Kenyon. She died in 1995 from Leukemia. At the time, she was the Poet Laureate of New Hampshire. In 1993, she and her husband, poet Donald Hall, were the subject of an Emmy Award winning Bill Moyers documentary, “ A Life Together”. This collection of her poetry also includes some of her translations of the poems of Anna Akhmatova. Jane‘s style is spare and emotional. She writes about nature, family, and life.
On the Road
by Anna Akhmatova
Translated from the Russian by Jane Kenyon
Though this land is not my own
I will never forget it,
or the waters of its ocean,
fresh and delicately icy.
Sand on the bottom is whiter than chalk,
and the air, drunk like wine.
Late sun lays bare
the rosy limbs of the pine trees.
Drawing from the Past
Only Mama and I were at home.
We ate tomato sandwiches
with sweeps of mayonnaise
on indifferent white bread.
A wasp rises to its papery
nest under the eaves
where it daubs
at the gray shape
but seem unable
to enter its own house.
“How is it that every object in this basket
got to be inside out? There must be
a trickster in the hamper, a backward,
Need to get back on track, so I will finish this book!
Lines for Akhmatova
“In the end you outlived the genocidal
Georgian with his mustache thick as a snake.
And in triumph, an old woman, you wrote:
I can‘t tell if the day is ending, or the world,
or if the secret of secrets is within me again.”
As I had read a book of Anna Akhmatova‘s poems this year, it was wonderful to see her referenced in this poet‘s work.
The Three Susans
The sun drops low over the pond.
Long shadows move out from the stones,
and a chill rises from the moss,
prompt as a deacon. And at Keat‘s grave
in the Protestant cemetery in Rome
it is already night,
and wild cats are stalking in the moat.
There she is: of the right age, dressed
expensively, stiffly, carrying a straw
summer bag with a scrimshaw whale on the lid,
a hard little basket out of which she draws
a single large bill for the food. Clearly
this time she‘s come alone.
It has been light since four. In June
the birds find plenty to remark upon
at that hour. Pickup trucks, three men
to a cab, rush past burgeoning hay
and corn to summer constructions
up in town.
The almost disturbing scent
of peonies presses through the screens,
and I know without looking how
those heavy white heads lean down
under the moon‘s light. A cricket chafes
and pauses, chafes and pauses,
as if distracted or preoccupied.
After the Dinner Party
At dinner I laughed with the rest,
but in truth I prefer the sound
of pages turning,and coals shifting
abruptly in the stove. I left before ten
pleading a long drive home.
Back again after supper, I‘d see
a nose poke up by the big flat stone
at the lip of the fall; then the humped
eyes and the slippery emerald head,
freckled brown. The buff membrane
pulsed under the jaw while
subtleties of timing played in my mind.
After Working Long On One Thing
Through the screen door
I hear a hummingbird, inquiring
for nectar among the stalwart
hollyhocks- an erratic flying
ruby, asking for sweets among
the sticky-throated flowers.
After the Hurricane
In the full still pond, the likeness
of golden birch leaves and the light they emit
shines exact. When the dog sees himself
his hackles rise. I stir away his troubles
with a stick.
Coming Home at Twilight in Late Summer
And then we noticed the pear tree,
the limbs so heavy with fruit
they nearly touched the ground.
We went out to the meadow;our steps
made black holes in the grass;
and we each took a pear,
and ate, and were grateful.
The Little Boat
We heard gears grinding at the foot of the hill;
the bus appeared and we knew we had to get in.
All day in my imagination my body floated
above the classroom, navigating easily
between fluorescent shoals...I was listening,
floating, watching...the others stayed below
at their desk(I saw the crown of my own head
bending over a book),and no one knew I was not
where I seemed to be.
Philosophy in Warm Weather
Now all the doors and windows
are open, and we move so easily
through the rooms. Cats roll
on the sunny rugs, and a clumsy wasp
climbs the pane, pausing
to rub a leg over her head.
Two bearded men: one chops a log,
the other milks a cow. Even at night
they turn their backsides to the strongest
gusts and work like mad, but never
finish, though they bend over the same log
and the same cow for the third year
in a row.
Why does this light force me back
to my childhood? I wore a yellow
summer dress, and the skirt
made a perfect circle.
Turning and turning
until it flared to the limit
was irresistible....The grass and trees,
my outstretched arms, and the skirt
whirled in the ochre light
of an early June evening.
Afternoon in the House
It‘s quiet here. The cats
in a favored place.
The geranium leans this way
to see if I‘m writing about her:
head all petals, brown
stalks, and those green fans.
So you see,
I am writing about you.
The Circle on the Grass
All afternoon I hear the blunt
shudder of limbs striking the ground.
The tree drops its arms
like someone abandoning a conviction:
-perhaps I have been wrong all this time-.
When it‘s over, there is nothing left
but a pale circle on the grass,
dark in the center, like an eye.
At the Feeder
And the Evening Grosbeaks-
those large and prosperous
finches- resemble skiers
with the latest equipment,bright
yellow goggles on their faces.
The Box of Beads
I went to visit when I was seven,
a long train ride across the country.
One day she took me to the Farmer‘s Market
In Los Angeles. She bought me
a beaded belt that said “California,”
and a Mexican jumping bean in a plastic box.
Best image that I could find to work for the belt, albeit not California per se. 🤷🏼♀️
Now she opens her straw purse, which looks like a small suitcase. She
hands me the new toy: a wooden paddle with a red rubber ball attached
to it by an elastic string. Sometimes when she goes downtown,
I think she will not come back.
PS I now have a strong desire to buy one of these. 🙂
The Clothes Pin
How much better it is
to carry wood to the fire
than to moan about your life.
How much better
to throw the garbage
onto the compost, or to pin the clean
sheet on the line
with a gray-brown wooden clothes pin!
In Several Colors
Every morning, cup of coffee
in hand, I look out at the mountain.
Ordinarily, it‘s blue, but today
it‘s the color of an eggplant.
#Poetrymatters #February #Day5 #feelings
Jane Kenyon translated poems of the Russian poet,Anna Akhmatova. In the twenties her work was denounced and forbidden to be published by the Socialist Party. Her works were banned, burnt, and forbidden also during Stalin‘s reign. This is one of her poems.
Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
-from Let Evening Come https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/46431
#inspiring #photoadaynov16 @RealLifeReading
So many book inspire me- here are a few.
My poetry shelf. I don't read nearly as much poetry as I feel I should. My favorites include Jane Kenyon, Emily Dickinson, Marge Piercy, Walt Whitman, and Czeslaw Milosz. #augustofpages #poetry #bookphotochallenge