July 3 Jane Kenyon: The Suitor

I’ve been a little lax about posting, my apologies, I’ve been a little preoccupied with life’s other activities. Speaking of which I will probably not post anything tomorrow as it is the 4th of July and here in the United States (if you are reading from elsewhere), that’s a big deal – Independence Day. There will be much grilling and blowing up of stuff (I always joke that it’s the day we Americans indulge in the two things we do the best: eating and blowin’ stuff up).

Now, onto the poem.

The textbook asks to find all of the similes in this poem and there are many. They often personify or at least animate the inanimate, so that each thing around the poet in some way is an extension of her lover or her feelings for her lover. Even the leaves that resemble fish turn the way her happy thoughts are turning. The “Curtains/lift and fall,/like the chest of someone sleeping.”  And I can see them billow out lightly and collapse, they fill up with light from the window and illuminate where a heart might be – perhaps she too is glowing. “The leaves…/show their..undersides,/turning all at once/like a school of fish.” We can see that bunched up group of elliptical bodies dash to the side the whole glob changes color magically from black to light blue within the time it takes to blink an eye and it feels like some one has lifted a blind fold away and there is light. “Suddenly I understand that I am happy.” She sees the light.

But it is not a sudden feeling, “For months this feeling/has been coming closer….” She describes it the way a suitor slowly approaches and woos the object of his affection. In this case, the suitor is also her feelings of love for the man she loves who must also (it is implied) be timid. The feeling of love crept up on her and in the blink of an eye she has found it.

The Suitor

by Jane Kenyon

We lie back to back. Curtains
lift and fall,
like the chest of someone sleeping.
Wind moves the leaves of the box elder;
they show their light undersides,
turning all at once
like a school of fish.
Suddenly I understand that I am happy.
For months this feeling
has been coming closer, stopping
for short visits, like a timid suitor.


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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