I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy lately. A little over-thoughtful, perhaps. Moody and broody. And what do I do when I feel that way? Well. I grab some poetry and read! Of course, I do that most days. But when I’m in a funk, I tend to reach for different poets than I do when I’m feeling whimsical or light-hearted or celebratory.

So this past week, I pulled down my very dog-eared copy of Jane Kenyon’s Collected Poems. I’m never sure if Jane Kenyon’s poems ARE actually melancholy, or if it’s just me . . . knowing that she died far too early (way too early; she was only 47) so tending to read her poetry through a melancholy-lens. There are two Jane Kenyon poems that always speak (loudly) to me, and I decided I would share one of those with you all today.

But then . . . I turned another dog-eared page in the book and found the poem I’m actually sharing today. Because it made me smile. It didn’t immediately remind me that Jane Kenyon died too early. Instead, it showed me Jane as a child . . . forging her way and thinking for herself. It actually reminds me . . . of me! Also a quiet rebel. Well behaved, generally, but always saying you-can’t-make-me in my head.

Learning in the First Grade
Jane Kenyon

“The cup is red. The drop of rain
is blue. The clam is brown.”

So said the sheet of exercises — 
purple mimeos, still heady
from the fluid in the rolling
silver drum. But the cup was

not red. It was white,
or had no color of its own.

Oh, but my mind was finical.
It put the teacher perpetually
in the wrong. Called on, however,
I said aloud: “The cup is red.”

“But it’s not,” I thought,
like Galileo Galilei
muttering under his beard. . . . 

It’s good to be a bit finical, my friends. Persnickety. Particular. Exacting.
Smile . . . and like the Fleetwood Mac song says, never be afraid to . . . go your own way!

I found today’s poem in my copy of Jane Kenyon Collected Poems, published in 2005 by Graywolf Press. You can find information about Jane Kenyon here, as well links to the two poems I referenced above but didn’t share: Otherwise and Let Evening Come.


You can find A Gathering of Poetry every month . . . on the third Thursday.
Share some.
Read some.
Gather up some poetry!

(Bonny is hosting a special link-up for A Gathering of Poetry. Be sure to check it out!)