Friday, April 07, 2017

Poetry Sisters Talk Back to a Poem

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing to a prompt created up by Sara (though she gives credit to for the idea to Laura, who mentioned it when we were brainstorming challenges for the year). April's challenge was to "talk back" to a poem. Sara chose this poem, found in Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy.

The Night
by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.

I wrote a number of poems for this challenge, but I couldn't get away from the idea of a letter. I'm not sure why I was stuck on an epistle, but that's where every draft went, even when I tried to write to form. After a number of drafts, this is the one I finally settled on.

Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Rainer,
Somehow your poem was no surprise
knowing you as I do
but I cannot concur

You love darkness, believe in night
I love brightness, believe in light

You say darkness embraces all
without regard to any feature
I fear it harms the small, the weak
diminishes every lonely creature

There is no comfort in the night
no refuge, peace, nor sacred psalm
It’s in the sun, its warmth and light
my heart, my soul find sweetest balm

I cannot love the darkness
I won’t embrace the night
we must agree to disagree
over this we shouldn't fight

You can have the dark, my friend
but for me I’ll bathe in light

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to date.
4-1: Kindness
4-2: The Kindness
4-3: A Jack Kerouac Poem
4-4: When I Am In the Kitchen
4-5: Stay Out Of My Kitchen
4-6: Perhaps the World Ends Here
4-7: The Neat One

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday friends!


  1. The third stanza is to me just perfect - and really the whole poem spins around that little moment. A simple reason why you disagree, but one to stand behind!

  2. "There is no comfort in the night" - SWOON!

  3. I just love this one, Tricia. And the epistle form is great, because it does sound like a lovely letter you'd write to a friend. My favorite lines are:
    I fear it harms the small, the weak
    diminishes every lonely creature


  4. Sometimes poems just know what form to take, and nothing we can do will convince them otherwise, in which case all we can do is go with the flow!

  5. I never thought of a letter! I think Rilke would've approved, what with his thousands of letters he wrote in his lifetime. :) Also, I admire how you've chosen to champion the weak and small. It is very YOU.

  6. I like the form and the contrast. Now if the rest of the world could learn to disagree so eloquently.

  7. Yours does a great job being thoroughly conversational. (I tend to agree with your position, too.)