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Poem analysis: Happiness by Jane Kenyon

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Jessica David

on 21 April 2015

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Transcript of Poem analysis: Happiness by Jane Kenyon

Why did I choose this poem?
Language features

Jessica David
Analysis: Language Features
It was easy to choose the topic that I wanted, but the difficulty was
Simile -
There’s just no accounting for happiness, or the way it

Personification -
"To the wineglass, weary of holding wine"
Allegory -
'The prodigal son' parable
Poem Analysis:
"Happiness" by Jane Kenyon
Why did I choose this topic?
The main theme of the poem is to appreciate happiness in all forms in life, even the simplest. It is something that is not physical yet
powerfully mental. The main themes
between the whole theme is
separated between the first and
second stanza and the third, fourth,
and fifth stanza.
Structure and form
Poetry Foundation 2005, Happiness by Jane Kenyon. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/28400, (accessed 15 Apr. 2015)
Structure and

About the Author:
Jane Kenyon
About the Poem
The poem "Happiness" written by Jane Kenyon, is a short free verse poem. Jane Kenyon most likely wrote the poem for herself to understand the word 'happiness', and to note down the answers to her troubles. Throughout most of her adulthood, Jane had battled depression, and knowing that, to readers of the this poem, it may intrigue you on how she managed to write a poem so effective about happiness.
Jane Kenyon was an American poet and translator. She was born on May 23, 1947, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the Midwest of the United states of America.
Kenyon earned:
~ Bachelor of arts (B.A.) - 1970
~ Master of arts (M.A.) - 1972
While still a student at the University of Michigan, Jane Kenyon married Donald Hall, a well known American poet, writer, editor and literary critic.
After they got married they moved to Eagle pond farm, Wilmot, New Hampshire, Donald Hall's ancestral home.
Sadly, on April, 22th, 1995, Jane Kenyon
died from leukemia.
The poem "happiness" is, a free verse poem. A free verse poem is a type of poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter - the rhythm of a piece of poetry, determined by the number and
length of lines.
The poem is composed of 5 stanzas
with 4 lines in the first stanza, 8 lines in the second stanza, 7 lines in the third stanza, 8 lines in the fourth stanza, and 4 lines in the last stanza.
Analysis- First two stanzas:
- We focus on negative aspects of our lives
E.g. The glass is half empty
In the poem Jane Kenyon mentions:
- The 'prodigal son', a parable in the bible: Luke 15:11-32:
The son of a wealthy man leaves the family and take his part of the family's fortune. He squanders the money, and eventually all of his share is gone and there is a famine in his whereabouts. Soon later, poor and destitute, he leaves back to his home, and repents for his sins. His father forgives him, and after he serves his son with his finest robes, and a big feast.
The prodigal son is written there to show an example of happiness, after the father forgave his son. Kenyon also noted that so she could elaborate on how appreciative and happy you should be, and that happiness can be unexpected and surprising (second stanza).

Analysis - Last two stanzas
In the third, fourth and fifth stanza, Jane Kenyon's poem analyzes:
- Happiness is a simple everyday form of life, and it can come everyday.
- Happiness is felt in honest and humble actions
- It can enter anyone, at any time
In the poem she notes down some different circumstances, people or things, the feeling of happiness can come into in all the paragraphs:
- (Stanza 3)
- A boulder
- A clerk stacking cans of carrots at night - The open sea
- A woman sweeping the streets with a birch broom - A wineglass
- The child whose mother has passed out etc.

turns up like a prodigal who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
(Last line of the whole poem - stanza 5)
Hyperbole -
" the unmerciful hours of your despair"
(Line 6-7, in stanza 3)
Anaphora -
"to the lover, to the dog chewing a sock, to
the pusher, to the basket maker"
The poem "happiness" by Jane Kenyon is a true masterpiece. Although it is just another poem, the meaning in this poem can change your perspective of life. A life of happiness is a life which each individual wants, and many how to achieve it, but don't choose to. Happiness is felt when an action, full of heart is made. Such as, helping someone, makes you feel good. This poem tells us it comes to anybody and when you feel it, use your happiness to boost others happiness well being. Comparing this poem to many other poems I've read, this is so valuable.
choosing the specific poem. At the start I wanted to choose a poem to do with optimism, and eventually after looking through hundreds of poems through many lists, I found the poem "happiness" by Jane Kenyon. My decision on the theme of happiness, was also inspired by my favourite quote:
"Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life" - Burton Wills
Poetry Foundation 2005, Jane Kenyon. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/jane-kenyon (accessed 16 Apr. 2015)
Wikipedia 17 Feb. 2015, Jane Kenyon. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Kenyon (accessed 15 Apr. 2015)
Wikipedia 8 Feb. 2015, Donald Hall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Hall (accessed 16 Apr. 2015)
Carolina Cuevas 22 Jan. 2014, Happiness" by Jane Kenyon. https://prezi.com/cdaykjt4hv-y/happiness-by-jane-kenyon/ (accessed 16 Apr. 2015)
Nashoba Liotta 10 Jun. 2014, Happiness by Jane Kenyon. https://prezi.com/ranyxsbu0ukz/happiness-by-jane-kenyon/ (accessed 16 Apr. 2015)
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