Jane Kenyon

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Surrender is a concept that can be perceived either as completely giving up or embracing a given thought. Jane Kenyon’s “Let Evening Come” is pastoral type of poetry which conveys a dominant theme of surrender. Although pastorals most often depict the rural life of the past, Kenyon’s poem can be interpreted by a timeless audience. The whole poem seemingly resembles a type of prayer one can recite in order to be constantly reminded to simply embrace the inevitable “evening,” the metaphor for death. The poem is also reflective of Kenyon’s personal view of surrendering her own life to her battle with leukemia. Through the repetitive use of the word “let” and the mention of the word “God” in the last stanza, Kenyon’s poem suggests the speaker’s willingness to surrender to a more divine supernatural force.

The structure of the poem is filled with very specific details about images prone to change the speaker notices in her surroundings. The speaker begins by suggesting to “let the light of the late afternoon shine through chinks in the barn.” The “light” can symbolize a divine being’s presence shining through her life. Meanwhile, the sun moving down is prophetic of the afternoon’s end moving onto the inevitable “evening.” Next stanza describes a cricket taking up chafing as a “woman takes up her needles and her yarn.” This is yet another image that suggests change. The act of sewing or anything pertaining to weaving can be tied to the twists and turns of life. Letting the “dew collect on the hoe abandoned long grass,” the “fox go back to its sandy den,” “the wind die down,” “the shed go black inside,” are all images that touch on the theme of surrender. The speaker is merely encouraging letting the natural flow of things because change is not necessarily bad. Fighting change, the speaker suggests, is futile because the inevitable cannot be overcome.

Although “evening” or death is inevitable, the overall tone of the poem is that of acceptance as...
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