#41 “Jenny Kissed Me” (Leigh Hunt)

Leigh Hunt’s “Jenny Kissed Me” may be the shortest poem on the Countdown: eight lines, and short lines, at that. The three-word title of the poem pretty much sums up the plot. What more do we learn? That Jenny was sitting before the kiss, and jumped up to accomplish it. That the speaker is otherwise fairly defeated by life. That “Time,” personified, keeps a “list,” and loves to put good things down on it. I don’t think this is one of those “My Favorites” lists, though. It think it’s one of those lists with the theme “I’m going to see that you suffer.”

Why is this a good poem at all, let alone the 41st-greatest poem in the contemporary English language? One of the values that I perceive in so many of these Countdown poems is compression. Huge issues, huge emotions, huge aspects of existence are condensed by great poets into the fewest possible words. Sometimes this results in poetry both compressed and oblique, poetry that talks around feelings too powerful to meet head-on. But sometimes, as in “Jenny Kissed Me,” we see the fullest possible lyric payoff in as direct a manner as possible, with the most straightforward expression.

And it’s the expression of an overwhelming lyric emotion: desire. Or rather, joy at being desired. The speaker of the poem scarcely says what he feels about Jenny. (He doesn’t even identify his own gender, though the poet was male.) But there is one thing that we can’t deny: Jenny kissed him.

And she jumped from a chair to do so. The wording here is so economical, so unexpected, and yet so precisely emotional. I can’t think of another phrasing that would be so inevitable and unmistakable. It conveys a visual image, and also a whole story and backstory in exquisite miniature. Jenny jumps; the excitement of rising to the kiss sends her entire body into motion. No thought is involved, and perhaps the thoughts in the case were opposite ones. I’m going to sit here calmly and shake his hand when he gets in. No, the hell with that.

“Put that in.” If Time is making up an extra-careful list of good things he gets to take away from us, Jenny’s kiss is among the brightest. And the poem confronts the ravages of time by the simplest method possible. Yes, everything will be taken away from us. But it has already been. By writing the good things on his list, Time destroys them. But he also makes an indelible record of them. Poetry is the most ineffaceable way of preserving that record.

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18 responses to “#41 “Jenny Kissed Me” (Leigh Hunt)

  1. I think this poem could possibly the writer’s own way of preserving the memory of Jenny kissing him. The writer might be trying to cheat time from taking this memory away from him. Isn’t that what writing is for? When people put thoughts, ideas, emotions down in writing they believe these things to be of value so that they are not lost to time or an absent mind. I believe that every written thing, whether I agree with it or not, is valuable and should be preserved. Something as important as a kiss is a treasure. Jenny may have been the author’s true love or just a girl that he had known and had truly taken him by surprise. Whoever she was she certainly left a lasting impression upon him! This poem is so short but I really like it, it makes me want to know more about the kiss. I would like to know more about the mysterious Jenny. Who was she? What did she look like? Why did she kiss him? Did she love him? Was it a dare? It is so fun to imagine what events lead up to the kiss and what events occurred after the famed kiss from Jenny.

  2. Keeping Time when it slips by…keeping track of things accomplished…one of them would be Jenny’s kiss. A very important thing to write and to remember. Jenny must have been very important woman in this poet’s life. They must have had a special relationship and have been happy with one another if when she saw him she jumped “from the chair she sat in.” When someone is happy they jump for joy! They are happy to see one another, so there must have been something special there. Time flies when you are having fun and this kiss made it all the more fun! This poet was insinuatd that he is a mature person by saying “Say I’m weary, say I’m sad, Say that health and wealth have missed me, Say I’m growing old.” He might have been quite mature actually. When one reflects on things accomplished in life, the one thing he was very proud of was Jenny’s kiss. It was a special one and she was a special person. Someone and something that goes into the “list.” Sometimes small things or just one thing, in this case, Jenny’s kiss, can make life all the worthwhile and so very special and memorable.

  3. Indeed, this poem was a record of this event so that even if time did erase it, it would still stay. I loved this poem because of the simplicity of the poem and the simplicity of that moment, not to him though. The moment Jenny kissed him was a moment he treasured extremely; it even has to go on the “list”.
    Time steals away everything eventually but at the end of it all one memory is suck to a person forever, just like that the speaker is telling time that put all you want on your list, good or bad but just include one thing for certain, “Jenny kissed me.”
    This poem just make me ask more questions about Jenny and her relationship with the speaker.

  4. This poem is definitely one of romance. Although not much is given out, I get the sense or the main point the speaker is trying to pass across. The speaker is recalling the time that he or she got kissed by a girl called Jenny. Jenny’s relationship with the speaker is unknown; but from what I see, I get the feeling that she’s a girl that he/she is in love with. Also, I kind of feel like this was their first kiss; and because of that, it was a memorable event for the speaker that couldn’t be erased. I think that the speaker doesn’t really have a fulfilling and happy life in general; but when Jenny’s around, she brightens up and excites the speaker’s day or life. The fact that Jenny jumped up when seeing the speaker tells me how much they both feel for each other. The poem is kind of easy to understand but is a little confusing because of missing information. It leaves readers wondering, wanting more in-depth information, and in a way lost. I do, however, like how the poet can convey such deep emotions into such little words. I feel that’s hard to do; which is what makes the poem a good one.

  5. I really did like this poem because of the simplicity of it, even though it was a couple of lines it really still did draw you in. Jenny’s kiss is something simple and pure one of the pleasures in life, and obviously something that’s kept with the narrator. The statement that time is a thief, time is something that takes steals things, people, moments away from us, like Jenny’s kiss, is a very good one. Jenny’s kiss maybe lasted for a little while in the grand scheme of things, swept away by time as quickly as it came, but it will always be remembered. It seems the narrator has had some trouble in his life, stating that he’s weary, sad, unhealthy and poor, not a good state for anyone, but still he’s happy despite all of this. Time has taken away a lot, but still Jenny’s kiss remains. It’s a beautiful sentiment, something you can really admire and it’s what makes this poem great. Time has taken away many things from the narrator, but still at the end of it there will always be that one moment with Jenny.

  6. As I sat in class and listened to comments about this poem and how it was a “Love” poem, I began to look at it differently. The more I read through the poem and the words that made up this rather short piece, it dawned on me that this poem was not about Love at all, but more about the writers displeasure with time and how time continues to rob him of all things good. To me the author sort of thumbs his nose up at time and tells Time that you can say that “I am weary”, or sad and that I may not be the wealthiest person, but I have something that you can not take away from me and that’s the sweet experience of Jenny’s kiss. Not only did Jenny kiss the author, but she JUMPED from the chair to do so. This says to me that she was just as happy to give the kiss as he was to receive it, so there… put that in your list.

  7. In this poem i think the writer is in love with Jenny. He remembers her kiss and how important is was to him. I think Jenny was his first love because he emphasizes over and over that Jenny kissed him. The writer is says “say im weary, say im sad.” Ithink this is saying he is weak about this girl. I think Jenny is a girl in his past that he cannot get over or forget. This poem was easy to understand that the writer is just simply in love with Jenny.

  8. decarlocoleman

    I really like this poem mainly because regardless of the length it has so much meaning. I had to read it twice before I was able to see the true meaning of the poem. The speaker is straight to the point yet its like he’s upset about the way he’s life turned out. The speaker says, ”Time, you thief”, which to me appears as though he feels robbed of time in his life of things that could have happened that would have made him happy. The speaker continues that health and wealth have missed him and now he’s old. Words that are of someone unsatisfied and unhappy within themselves, having the only thing worth bragging about being that Jenny kissed him. Jenny must have been very beautiful and the highlight of his life if that’s the only thing he can name that has made his life happy.

  9. I really like how much we can get out of this short poem. Time has stolen from the speaker many things. Over time he has grown old, with wealth and health missing him. As we grow old we regret some things or wish things could have turned out differently. However we always have the memories of the times that were great. For the speaker, the time Jenny kissed him was something that he would never forget. No matter what, it is something that happened and time could never take this away from him. “Put that in,” I really liked this because he knows what time will take from him and it’s like he’s giving it something that time will never be able to take and erase from him. Over time we lose a lot, loved ones, friends, and like the poem says, health. One thing we never lose however are the memories of the great times we had growing old.

  10. Just by looking at this poem, it doesn’t look like there would be much to think about, however, within these few lines lies a lot of interesting information. There is a lot of energy that bounces out of the first two lines of the poem and I love that because it draws me into reading the rest of it and keeps me wondering what the next few lines have to offer. The next thing that amazes me is how the author managed to compress so many emotions into the poem. Obviously the most important thing to the speaker is the kiss that he receives from this girl Jenny. We learn a lot more about how the girl feels about him than how he feels about her because of how she jumps out of the chair she sat in to kiss him (this shows her anxiousness to kiss him, as if she has been waiting for it for a long time). The kiss seems to be a contrast to the rest of the poem since it shows so much happiness, while the rest of the poem talks about sadness, growing old, etc. To me, it seems like the speaker is saying that despite the fact that he is sad, growing old, unhealthy, and not wealthy, he is happy because of the kiss he received from Jenny (as if the kiss makes all those things better). Some of the simplest things such as a kiss can make us happier than any other thing we experience.

  11. the speaker in this poem is almost a sad but excited speaker. It seems to me that the moment when Jenny kissed him was one of great influence and excitment for him. There is a fondness for Jenny that does not take on other aspects his life. It seems that the rest of his life has been melodramatic and boring compared to the point when Jenney jumped up and kissed him. The whole idea of one simple kiss making that much impact in one mans life is unimaginable. But I guess a first kiss is the most important one.

  12. This poem is very simple to read and also very short, it almost seems like a part of a song. When I read this poem I imagine I am in a park sitting in a bench when all of a sudden I get kissed by a handsome guy and the world just stops. That is probably how the speaker in the poem felt when Jenny kissed him, and it looks like Jenny really liked him maybe for a long time, until she couldn’t hide it anymore and approached him. Maybe she couldn’t resist and jumped up from her chair and kissed him. The speaker is also talking to time and almost seems angry at it. He tells time to write that good moment in his list and maybe he will also add that he was sad and growing old. The last line the speaker tells time that no matter all those bad things in the list and no matter the good times that time has taken, Jenny kissed him, so nothing else matters because he is still frozen in that moment.

  13. When I read the title “Jenny Kissed Me” I didn’t know what to expect at first,was the author happy Jenny laid one on him was he mad. So I didn’t get my hopes of that it was something romantic and exciting then get to the end of the poem and be disappointed. However I wasn’t disappointed it was a very calm up/beat poem. Showing how we sometimes wish we had more time in certain situations we want to savor that moment make it last forever. But time gets the privilege of taking that away not stopping for us to enjoy but moving on for its enjoyment. We have all had this moment rather its our first kiss, fishing trip with dad we’re having so much fun we don’t want to think about moving on to something else. And it’s times that we have been caught up in the moment were we don’t even notice time anymore although it’s still moving. It’s amazing how one simple thing that brings us so much enjoyment we literally won’t time to stop on behalf of us. Shows how the simple things in life makes us happy.

  14. Reading this poem made me smile almost child like. It reminds that no matter what you may do in life or to people that someone is always there for you, that someone may always want to kiss you. People always seem to remember a simple time when someone did something kind that is what leaves an impression on people just taking a simple moment in time.

  15. The poem “Jenny Kissed Me” is very romantic, charming and yet it is simple. It looks like the poet Leigh Hunt was very much affected by the kiss Jenny gave him even though it was a short one. “I’m weary, say I’m sad” sounds like he is trying to express his despair in life. Hunt may have had made unwise financial decisions and he had some health issues but the kiss jenny gave him is so memorable that it is stored in his mind forever helping him forget the pain he has suffered. As we know time and tide waits for no one so Hunt does not want to glance back to his past and be poignant about it. Instead he wishes to reminisce over the happy and fruitful moments and move forward.

  16. spontaneous12

    The poem “Jenny Kissed Me” reminds me of the specific things that unite a couple but are also the things that are forgotten as a couple get older. Some things like birthdays and certain anniversaries you don’t forget and they don’t go away. The first kiss is an intimate feeling that can be easily forgotten as time takes away the youth of those days. Sometimes, we forget how much that first kiss meant to us until we are able to retain that special feeling with that special someone at a later time. It’s sort of like a relief that you are still in contact with that person. When Jenny jumps from the chair, we know that something has to be very exciting to do such a thing. An older woman shows her affection more differently then she would if she was Jenny in this case. An older woman’s love is through the birth of her children, also her children’s children, the gift of her wisdom, and the joy she receives through Christ’s passion for the gift of life. Age limits her excitement such as having a brand new doll for Christmas as a little girl, and the giggles that go along with gossiping to her friends about her new boyfriend. The speaker refers to time being a thief which is very interesting. I think back to when I wrote about not forgetting things such as birthdays and anniversaries. These things aren’t taken away as long as a marriage sustains them, but memories are forgotten as time steals them away. It doesn’t mean that the memories aren’t there, just that they’re harder to remember with so much other things that have came and moved on. Weariness and sadness can come through death and coping with grief, or trouble in life over time. Health isn’t promised to everyone nor wealth and it is mostly seen from a first person perspective that we are not rich. Some see it from a first person perspective that we can become sick. Others have grown old and still remember their first love that was lost for whatever reason and there is no way to get them back. Just know this one thing about the speaker though, Jenny kissed him and he will have remembered the kiss for the rest of his life; There is still the threat of remembering with the possibility of a couple separating as most do when we become adults and the threat of remembering that intimate kiss after death has separated either spouses subsequent the success of a lifelong marriage.

  17. I truely enjoyed this poem. Especialy for it’s simplicity and lenght. Our first kiss lives with us forever. I don’t think that there is a single person out there , man or woman, that doesn’t remember their first kiss. It may not be their best but it sure was their first. I remember mine and this poem brought back that memory. It seems that life isn’t going too well for one of the characters. Even with money missing him or passing him buy he still holds strong with the fact that Jenny kissed him. It was a very important acomplishment for him. If anything else, Jenny kissed me. Love struck thoughts. One can oftern lose themselves in love.

  18. “Jenny Kissed Me” by Leigh Hunt is a very short yet sweet piece of art. The poem is simple, but still gets the point across. The kiss was so important to this author that regardless of what else happens, the fact that he got one from this girl made him forget all the bad things. That is what I love about poetry; it truly gives you a feeling for the message being conveyed. And in this poem, the message of love and getting a kiss is so powerful that nothing else matters. I wish I could have been in class to hear the conversation about this particular work. But from what I got out of it; it seems that even though the author didn’t write about his feelings, you can definitely tell how he feels!

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