Thursday, October 24, 2013

the vastness and courage


by Jane Kenyon

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.


by John Tagliabue

Sometimes when I see the bare arms of trees in the evening
I think of men who have died without love,
Of desolation and space between branch and branch.
I think of immovable whiteness and lean coldness and fear
And the terrible longing between people stretched apart as these branches
And the cold space between.
I think of the vastness and courage between this step and that step,
Of the yearning and the fear of the meeting, of the terrible desire held apart.
I think of the ocean of longing that moves between land and land
And between people, the space and ocean.
The bare arms of the trees are immovable, without the play of leaves, without the sound of wind;
I think of the unseen love and the unknown thoughts that exist between tree and tree,
As I pass these things in the evening, as I walk.

Sometimes I stumble upon poems on my internet travels, and I'll bookmark them for later. Sometimes I do an obvious search for something that makes sense with the photographs I happen to have taken, as happened with the poems today.

I'd read Kenyon's collected ages ago. It's somewhere on my bookshelf. But hadn't remembered the poem above. I'd not heard of John Tagliabue but will definitely be looking up more of his work.

The photos - evening - our backyard, looking west toward the freeway through the trees.

All day today I'm going to come back to these poems. Thinking about the vastness and courage of people, of how we long for those so far away from us, the unseen love and the unknown thoughts that exist between us.

I will let it all come, let evening come. Watching the light all through the day, until it sinks down low and lovely, until it's a fire visible through the apple tree in my backyard.


  1. Shawna, I loved the poem by Jane Kenyon and then discovered that it had been sent to me by a friend well over a year ago. I had forgotten it. However, I noted a different in spelling. Here on this blog, the first stanza says, "Let the light of the late afternoon / shrine through chinks . . . " The copy I'd received earlier says "shine" not "shrine." I checked Kenyon's website and the poem there also has "shine." I'm disappointed because I was truly charmed by the notion of "shrine" as a verb. I thought it was lovely.

  2. Edna - thank you for your sharp eye. No idea how that stray r got in there. But like you, I do rather like 'shrine.' :)


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