In my opinion, if any American poet might rightfully be called Robert Frost’s heir, it was Jane Kenyon.  Not only because so many of her poems were rooted in rural New England, where she lived with her husband (and Poet Laureate of the United States) Donald Hall, but because Kenyon was acquainted with the melancholy underlying the commonplace activities of life.  Just as Frost could tinge apple-picking with something darker, Kenyon found a gentle sadness in the seasons, in the turning of the year and in the changing of the weather.

Kenyon struggled openly for much of her life with depression.  She has often been compared to Sylvia Plath for that reason, which I find unfortunate.  Not because I dislike Plath, because I don’t, but because I believe Kenyon matured beyond the self-pitying narcissism that became Plath’s hallmark.  If Plath had been braver, she might have gone on to write like Kenyon.  And to all of the adolescent literary girls who read The Bell Jar  and pine, pine, pine over Lady Lazarus and Daddy, I say (1) I used to be one of you; (2) cheer up! (3) read them, enjoy them; and (4) when you are ready to grow up some, read this:

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.
 
Jane Kenyon, “Let Evening Come” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.