Poems On Silence Essay

1683 words - 7 pages

The poems contained within this anthology were selected for the unifying theme of silence. In each poem, the presence or absence of silence is integral to either the subject matter or mood: influencing the language, imagery, and mental dynamics of each piece. Many of the pieces are focused on death or internal musing, subjects that lend themselves to silent language and activity. However, there is an extraordinary range of attitudes, imagery, language, and tone in regard to these subjects and their relation silence. These poems speak to the multi-faceted nature of silence, demonstrating that it is more than just an absence of sound. It can be a state of being, a source of comfort, cause for ...view middle of the document...

The speaker is unable to fall asleep: “Even the other side of the pillow/Cannot shush the endless talk in my mind”. The speaker is noisily tossing and turning and are unable to put their mind to rest. The speaker strongly desires to silence their brain and body so that they may achieve a sense of peace and fall asleep. Ironically, the poem ends with the speaker unable to fall asleep while the rest of the world is silent through the night, and hopes that songs of the morning birds will calm them so that they can finally enjoy the quiet of sleep.
“Poem 8” by Alex Geitz also concerns itself with mental anxiety, albeit on a more positive note. It reads as an internal monologue, suggesting physical silence and solitude as the speaker appraises their past achievements triggering deeper mental wanderings on the outlook of the future. The speaker of the poem is in the act of simultaneously reminiscing about the past and contemplating the future: “With past success come anticipated expectation/Maybe the past is not foreshadowing of the future”. This creates a feeling of a large temporal space, where the quiet thoughts of the speaker can softly dissipate. While there is no punctuation and the lines can be interpreted as running into one another they also function as complete thoughts individually. This contributes to a feeling of mental silence as it simulates slight pauses within the internal monologue of the speaker.
The fourth poem, “Prayer from a Mouse” by Sarah Messer, continues the trend of external silence and mental activity. The impression of silence within this poem comes from the title and central subject itself: prayer. Prayer, especially when contained to individuals, is often a quiet, meditative act. The language of the poem attempts to mimic this tone of quiet, reverent prayer. The poem has a wealth of quiet imagery. The speaker of the poem often utilizes locations that are cozy, such as “beneath the sky’s long house” or empty such as “a deserted street”. The speaker is praying to a higher power, to a “Beloved King of Stars” for peace and guidance into the afterlife. The speaker is not afraid of the silence of death because of their faith in this deity. The speaker itself is indicated to be a mouse in the tittle. It is an animal we associate with silence and creeping and meshes well with the subject matter and tone of the poem.
“Gone” by Lia Purpura focuses on similar themes of death and silence as the last poem, however it comes to drastically different conclusions. The silence of this poem comes from the hypothetical state of being of the speaker. The speaker is mulling over their potential death and the “nothingness” of that state of being. The speaker believes they will literally be gone: they will want for nothings, feel nothing, and miss nothing. The speaker faces death as a complete lack of being, a silence of existence. The last two lines reveal the tension created by the threat of this silence. It is entirely disquieting, forcing...

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