God Does Not Leave Us Comfortless

Egbert Van der Poel, "Cottage"

Egbert Van der Poel, “Cottage”

A number of you have asked about my father, whose poems I have featured regularly on this blog and who is currently in the hospital after having suffered (we think) from a TIA or mini-stroke. He is having trouble with his memory and we are very worried. I am haunted by Jonathan Swift’s comments to Thomas Archer upon observing a tree whose upper branches had been struck my lighting.

“I shall be like that tree,” Swift is reported to have said. “I shall die at the top.” And indeed, Swift would go on to suffer from a stroke and lose his wits.

On a more positive note, my brother reports that my father yesterday remembered names and recognized faces that he didn’t remember and recognize the day before. We live upon hope.

Farida Bag of Uganda, a regular reader of this blog who is extraordinarily sensitive in picking the right poems for difficult times, e-mailed me this Jane Kenyon poem. I was comforted by its reminder that the onset of darkness does not have to be seen as a cataclysm:

Let Evening Come

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.

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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