Friday, August 07, 2020

Poetry Friday: Songs at the End of Summer

No matter what has happened in the past few months, the Academy of American Poets has been there. I was so impressed by their Shelter in Poems theme for National Poetry Month this year, whipped up at the last minute but full of comfort. And now they are gamely sending out their Back to School emails, just as though it were a regular year and not a morass of confusion. 


In the Back to School email was this Jane Kenyon poem. I read and reflected on summers gone by, in Kenyon's life and my own. I need to write my own version for this year, but I don't have time right now because I'm busily learning all new software for this year, and reading all the new books I have to teach in this new curriculum that's going to make things easier (so they tell me) while our lives are upended by COVID and - oh yeah - all the other crises Haiti was already going through.


And by the way, I just got out of the hospital. It wasn't COVID but a vitamin B12 deficiency, and correcting it has made me feel a thousand percent better in every way. Everything's just as much of a mess as before, but I feel much more able to cope, both physically and emotionally. I'm not completely back to normal yet, but this new health and strength is a gift I receive with gratitude. And I need to write about that too (I did write this already), but not today. So here is Jane Kenyon's poem. I noticed at the top of the page that she didn't live as long as I already have. Every day is a gift, especially here at the end of summer, and the beginning of who knows what. 

Three Songs at the End of Summer

by Jane Kenyon


A second crop of hay lies cut

and turned. Five gleaming crows

search and peck between the rows.

They make a low, companionable squawk,

and like midwives and undertakers

possess a weird authority.


Here's the rest.


Here's today's roundup. 


Linda B said...

First, I am so glad you are better, Ruth, that's a best thing for sure! I've loved the 'shelter in poems', too, have so many bookmarks of them! As for the poem, all wonderful, but what touches me personally is "blue canvas satchel". I had forgotten that so long ago we did not have backpacks & did have satchels & I loved mine, packing it so carefully with all I "thought" was needed. Thank you, & best wishes with that prep. I know that this new kind of teaching must feel as if everyone is in their "first" year.

laurasalas said...

I'm so glad you're feeling better, Ruth! Jane Kenyon's calm observation of and wry appreciation and acceptance of life always resonates with me. Sending good thoughts for your start to the school year!

author amok said...

Thank you for the update on your health, Ruth. So many people -- educators, students, parents -- are feeling inadequate and sidelined as this strange school year begins. The last lines of the poem capture that feeling of hesitancy.

Tim said...

As your other commenters have said, I'm glad that you're feeling better! This poem that you've shared is wonderful. Midwives and undertakers do, indeed, possess a weird authority!

Best wishes on your prep. I'm in the process of training our teachers on new software (Schoology and SchoolsPLP), so I have a bit of understanding about what you're going through!

Mary Lee said...

SO glad you are feeling better. I had a brief stay in the hospital for IV antibiotics for cellulitis in my lymphedema arm, and I think I must have been harboring a systemic low-level infection, because I, too, feel completely renewed.

Your last line: "Every day is a gift, especially here at the end of summer, and the beginning of who knows what." and Kenyon's last line: "It was the only life I had." are necessary reminders.

Susan Bruck said...

I'm glad you're feeling better. We need all of our strength and resources to deal with life right now. I often see crows on my morning walks, and love Kenyon's description of them! I an also older than she was--and appreciate your reminder that every day is a gift as we face who knows what.
I hope you continue to feel better. Good luck with the new school year!

Karen Edmisten said...

Ruth, I'm so happy you're feeling better! And this Kenyon poem is one of my favorites. Thanks for this today. xo

michelle kogan said...

I'm very taken by your post–your poem "Thy Sick Servant Mom," your gratitude and expression of love around you, and Jane Kenyon's gorgeous poem. Wishing you more healing and a few moments somewhere in the midsts of all to ponder and reflect.

Carol Varsalona said...

Ruth, once again I am filled with the beauty of your thoughts and bringing Jane Kenyon's words to us at the soon-end-of-summer. "It was the only life I had." We need to reflect on the months gone by, the road we have taken, the beauty of the world, and the life we wish to live. I am lifting you up in prayer for your continued healing.