Published twenty-five years after her untimely death, The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon presents the essential work of one of America’s most cherished poets—celebrated for her tenacity, spirit, and grace. In their inquisitive explorations and direct language, Jane Kenyon’s poems disclose a quiet certainty in the natural world and a lifelong dialogue with her faith and her questioning of it. As a crucial aspect of these beloved poems of companionship, she confronts her struggle with severe depression on its own stark terms. Selected by Kenyon’s husband, Donald Hall, just before his death in 2018, The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon collects work from across a life and career that will be, as she writes in one poem, “simply lasting.”
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.