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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Jane Kenyon's poem Let Evening Come


  1. Years ago, I knew Don and Jane at the U of Michigan. I was in awe of the marriage of two brilliant poets. We lost touch. Some year later, from Bill Moyer’s program, I understood that Don was ill and like to die soon. At the news of her impending abandonment, Jane had gone into their barn and howled like a dog. Years later, when the nursing home called to tell me my sister, my only living relative, had died, I heard a rent in the dark fabric of the universe and I knew Jane’s howl. At Barnes & Noble, I saw the cover of Don’s latest book, his face a poem of tragedy. The title, “Without,” told me dear Jane had let evening come.

  2. Jeri Jordan says:

    For me the poem speaks to the “evening” which will come to us all. It is difficult to find comfort at the end of life, yet we all know it waits for us, each in our turn. We cannot stop evening from coming but we may find comfort despite it.

  3. chris Douglass says:

    Jane Kenyon wrote this poem for my friend, her minister, Jack Jensen. He was dying from cancer, and she wrote this poem and brought it to him after one of his long stays in the Dartmouth Hospital cancer wing.

    The last time I saw Jack alive – during February vacation – he showed me the poem. He, the minister to so many lost souls, sighed. He could not put into words the loss that he believed he would have to face soon. Dylan’s poem “Do not go gently into the night” was more his tone, though he hid his feelings to protect his wife and family from his fate.

    I see him standing on the porch, weak and diminished, looking out towards me as I drove away. I never saw him again in the flesh. I have felt diminished ever since. A light had been extinguished in my life.

    Jane loved Jack and wrote a tribute to his approaching death. I wish that both Jack and I could have shared her faith as so beautifully captured in her poem and in her hymns that she sang Jack on the last night of his life.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Chris Douglass
    a friend of Jack Jensen for three decades and an acquaintance of Jane Kenyon based on that friendship.

    Donald Hall and I spoke at Jack’s funeral.

  4. Ben Devoid says:

    Such detail, to every thing, even the bottle in the ditch, God does not leave us comfortless. And so it is, her words become a comfort.

  5. Richard Crane says:

    This poem has a subtle cadence,with insightful verse. I especially like the last lines “God does not leave us comfortless, so let evening come.” I think everyone has felt some trepidation at one time or another as night fall approached.

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