"The Pear" by Jane Kenyon + Vanilla-Scented Pearsauce

Some poems make things simple, recipe-wise. They list a series of ingredients, practically writing the recipe for you, giving your mind a dish before you even finish reading. In this poem, there is none of that. Instead, a single pear, first in the title, then not again until the last stanza, where it's used as a metaphor for the mind in middle age.

The Pear

By Jane Kenyon

There is a moment in middle age
when you grow bored, angered
by your middling mind, afraid.

That day the sun
burns hot and bright,
making you more desolate.

It happens subtly, as when a pear
spoils from the inside out,
and you may not be aware
until things have gone too far.


Certainly, the passage of time is a strong theme. We all have moments (middle-aged or not), when seemingly out of the blue you realize how fast-paced your life is. Sometimes it hits you in the face, like when you receive an invitation for your 10-year high school reunion. More often though, it's subtle, as the speaker suggests, like when you reach for a pear in the bowl on the counter and realize it has spoiled. That the month is nearly over, another year gone by.

It sounds as if the speaker needs a bit of a boost. Someone to say, "it's fine, really." And I can think of nothing better than a cup of tea, a scone, and homemade jam to soothe the soul and make the world a bit more manageable.


When viciously pureed, the pears take on the consistency of applesauce. Whether or not you peel the pears is up to you; I gave them a rough peel, just to get most of the skin off. Also, if you prefer your sauce slightly less sweet, reduce the amount of sugar.

4 pears, peeled and chopped
1 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sugar

In a 3-quart saucepan, add the pears and sugar. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds out of their pod, then add them to the pan. Toss in the pod as well.

Heat over a medium-low flame for about 15 minutes, or until the pears are soft and masheble with the back of a spoon.

Remove the vanilla pod and transfer jam to a food processor; pulse until desired consistency is reached. Keep refrigerated, and spread on scones or toast.