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Jane Kenyon: American poet and translator of Russian dissident poet Anna Akhmatova

One of the main themes of her poetry was her struggle with depression

  • February: Thinking of Flowers
  • Now wind torments the field,
  • turning the white surface back
  • on itself, back and back on itself,
  • like an animal licking a wound.
  • Nothing but white—the air, the light;
  • only one brown milkweed pod
  • bobbing in the gully, smallest
  • brown boat on the immense tide.
  • A single green sprouting thing
  • would restore me. . . .
  • Then think of the tall delphinium,
  • swaying, or the bee when it comes
  • to the tongue of the burgundy lily.
  • Briefly It Enters, and Briefly It Speaks
  • I am the blossom pressed in a book,
  • found again after two hundred years. . . .
  • I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . . 
  • When the young girl who starves
  • sits down to a table
  • she will sit beside me. . . . 
  • I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . . 
  • I am water rushing to the wellhead, 
  • filling the pitcher until it spills. . . . 
  • I am the patient gardener
  • of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
  • I am the stone step,
  • the latch, and the working hinge. . . . 
  • I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
  • the longest hair, white
  • before the rest. . . . 
  • I am there in the basket of fruit 
  • presented to the widow. . . .
  • I am the musk rose opening 
  • unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
  • I am the one whose love
  • overcomes you, already with you
  • when you think to call my name. . . .
Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) was an American poet who composed in a plain style that, with frank imagery, exhibited an impressive emotional range. Kenyon drew her images from the rural setting of the farm that she and her husband, fellow poet Donald Hall (1928-2018), made their home and center of creative activity. She was also renowned as a translator of poetry, especially that of Russian dissident poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966). One of the main themes in Kenyon’s poetry was her struggle with depression. She died at the age of 47 from leukemia.

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  • February: Thinking of Flowers
  • Now wind torments the field,
  • turning the white surface back
  • on itself, back and back on itself,
  • like an animal licking a wound.
  • Nothing but white—the air, the light;
  • only one brown milkweed pod
  • bobbing in the gully, smallest
  • brown boat on the immense tide.
  • A single green sprouting thing
  • would restore me. . . .
  • Then think of the tall delphinium,
  • swaying, or the bee when it comes
  • to the tongue of the burgundy lily.
  • Briefly It Enters, and Briefly It Speaks
  • I am the blossom pressed in a book,
  • found again after two hundred years. . . .
  • I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . . 
  • When the young girl who starves
  • sits down to a table
  • she will sit beside me. . . . 
  • I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . . 
  • I am water rushing to the wellhead, 
  • filling the pitcher until it spills. . . . 
  • I am the patient gardener
  • of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
  • I am the stone step,
  • the latch, and the working hinge. . . . 
  • I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
  • the longest hair, white
  • before the rest. . . . 
  • I am there in the basket of fruit 
  • presented to the widow. . . .
  • I am the musk rose opening 
  • unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
  • I am the one whose love
  • overcomes you, already with you
  • when you think to call my name. . . .
Jane Kenyon

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995) was an American poet who composed in a plain style that, with frank imagery, exhibited an impressive emotional range. Kenyon drew her images from the rural setting of the farm that she and her husband, fellow poet Donald Hall (1928-2018), made their home and center of creative activity. She was also renowned as a translator of poetry, especially that of Russian dissident poet Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966). One of the main themes in Kenyon’s poetry was her struggle with depression. She died at the age of 47 from leukemia.

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