Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Poetry & Perfume VI - ‘Let Evening Come’ by Jane Kenyon & ‘Dior Homme Intense’ by Dior
Let Evening Come
by Jane Kenyon
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
This poem and fragrance may seem at first like unusual companions, but there is subtlety and grace to my reasoning. Jane Kenyon’s poem is a quiet decent into death, shadows shifting, light stretching, and time inevitably moving toward darkness.
I have been haunted by it ever since I first read it many years ago during a brush with severe illness. It affected me profoundly. Each verse adds more details - dew, crickets, stars, an abandoned hoe, a bottle in a ditch, air in lungs, a scoop in the oats, light and foxes. These quiet things are settled, in repose as darkness comes. The picture painted is one of shimmering suffused rest. But there is comfort in the creeping shadows, an inevitability of solace in obscurity and shade.
Let evening come. I am ready. I am rested.
When I read this I wonder… what will I remember as evening falls, the great highs and lows, the operatic passions and sexual dramas that shattered the peace of random seasons. Will it be faces, in rooms, endless rooms, lit by joy and regret? Or will it be the detail, the minutiae. The scoop in the oats, the bottle in the ditch?
Candles on strewn student floors, a Paris polaroid on a table, cigarettes in drunken fingers. The scent of beeswax and oakmoss on sleeping skin, a cat asleep in moonlight, shoes on a crumpled bed, a Highland lake, safety pins in a broken shirt.
Random details. Shrouded in dusk. Warmed through with the comfort of letting go. Of faith in something, even if it is just the knowledge of finality.
…Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
I could smell something in the darkness. It took me a while to get it. Then remembered a review of Dior Homme & Dior Homme Intense I had written for Basenotes a while back:
‘I imagine walking through a city nightscape, kicking through cocoa powder like the finest of sand beneath my feet, clouds of it catching flickering overhead neons. I am wearing lipgloss, people stare, some smile, some close their eyes. The air is still, my skin is alive though with spices, chocolate and the lilac kiss of bruised iris. I want them to know I am man who takes risks, a man who walks on the dark side of the line. The ambiguity of Dior Homme is startling enough, but its David Bowie Man Who Fell to Earth eeriness is almost unbearably beautiful. My skin adores it, drinks itself giddy on it. It settles around me like a halo, barely glowing, but still warm enough to burn wings. For me the Intense version is even better, more swirling cocoa, more sci-fi, more sweet rain. Like a drug, distance and separation can cause heartache and withdrawal.’
Reading this again I knew I had found my scent for Let Evening Come, a sweet brooding aroma to drop into, like arms and kisses in the darkness. The enhanced cocoa note in Dior Homme Intense floods the senses with drama and detail. The original fragrance by Olivier Polge changed the face of men’s scent forever. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful and enigmatic men’s fragrances of the last twenty years. On a visit to Edinburgh Bertrand Duchaufour said it was the fragrance he would have loved to have made. Praise indeed. So many sweet, powdery men’s scents have followed, but none of them have ever come close to Polge’s original. Patrick Demarchy reworked Dior Homme for the Intense version. It has been re-formulated and this has split the Intense lovers. Some love the remix, others hate it.
Wearing the scent again reminds me how delicately the notes are assembled. There is space in between the accords and facets, allowing the senses to breathe and absorb the beauty. I have always admired the stillness of this scent. There is a tremor of something in the background. Something coming, but it is so hard to discern edges in the falling darkness.
Kenyon’s life was brief; she died of leukemia at the age of 47 after battling depression for most of her life. Her poetry is incredibly beautiful, marked by simplicity and a quiet and steadfast faith. Many of her poems feel like prayers or psalms. In an interview with David Bradt included in her Selected Poems published by Bloodaxe, Kenyon is asked ‘What’s the poet’s job?’…
She replied…’….the other job the poet has is to console in the face of inevitable disintegration of loss and death, all the tough things we have to face as humans. We have the consolation of beauty, of one soul extending to another soul, and saying “I’ve been there too”.’
I always have her poems by my bed. Her work is balm and solace.