'Poem Of Night' by Galway Kinnell

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I move my hand over
slopes, falls, lumps of sight,
Lashes barely able to be touched,
Lips that give way so easily
it's a shock to feel underneath them

The bones smile.

Muffled a little, barely cloaked,
Zygoma, maxillary, turbinate.


I put my hand
On the side of your face,
You lean your head a little
Into my hand--and so,
I know you're a dormouse
Taken up in winter sleep,
A lonely, stunned weight.


A cheekbone,
A curved piece of brow,
A pale eyelid
Float in the dark,
And now I make out
An eye, dark,
Wormed with far-off, unaccountable lights.


Hardly touching, I hold
What I can only think of
As some deepest of memories in my arms,
Not mine, but as if the life in me
Were slowly remembering what it is.

You lie here now in your physicalness,
This beautiful degree of reality.


And now the day, raft that breaks up, comes on.

I think of a few bones
Floating on a river at night,
The starlight blowing in a place on the water,
The river leaning like a wave towards the emptiness.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poem Of Night: A Profound Exploration of the Human Existence

Galway Kinnell's Poem Of Night is a masterpiece of modern poetry that delves deep into the human psyche, illuminating the darkest corners of our consciousness. With its haunting imagery, powerful language, and thought-provoking themes, this poem is a testament to Kinnell's poetic genius.

At its core, Poem Of Night is a meditation on the duality of human existence, the constant interplay of light and darkness that defines us as human beings. Through vivid descriptions of the natural world, Kinnell explores the eternal struggle between life and death, good and evil, hope and despair.

The poem opens with a description of the night sky, with its "frosty stars" and "luminous air," setting the stage for the themes to come. As the speaker wanders through the darkness, he encounters various creatures of the night, each one a symbol of the fragility and transience of life.

The owl, with its "black / hooded head and eyes like molten gold," represents the mystery and danger that lurk in the shadows of the human soul. The bat, with its "fluttering wings and tiny body," embodies the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. And the deer, with its "startled eyes and shivering flanks," is a powerful symbol of vulnerability and mortality.

Throughout the poem, Kinnell employs striking imagery and sensory details to create a vivid and immersive experience for the reader. The "blue-black leaves" of the trees, the "glossy black water" of the river, and the "frosty breaths" of the animals all contribute to a sense of otherworldliness and magic that permeates the poem.

At the same time, the language of Poem Of Night is deeply rooted in the everyday experiences of human life. The speaker's musings on mortality, loss, and the fleeting nature of time are universal themes that resonate with readers of all ages and backgrounds.

One of the most powerful aspects of this poem is the way it transcends language and reaches deep into the human soul. Kinnell's use of metaphor and symbolism allows for multiple layers of interpretation, inviting readers to bring their own experiences and perspectives to the text.

For example, the image of the "black hooded owl" may evoke different emotions and associations for different readers. Some may see it as a symbol of wisdom and mystery, while others may interpret it as a harbinger of death and despair.

Similarly, the image of the deer with its "startled eyes" may be read as a metaphor for the vulnerability and helplessness of the human condition. In this way, Poem Of Night functions as a mirror for the reader's own thoughts and feelings, reflecting back to us the complexity and depth of our own consciousness.

At the heart of this poem is a profound sense of awe and wonder at the natural world, and an awareness of our own smallness and impermanence in the face of its vastness and eternity. Kinnell's language is both celebratory and elegiac, capturing both the beauty and the sadness of the world around us.

The final lines of the poem are a powerful and poignant conclusion to this exploration of the human soul. As the speaker gazes out at the stars, he reflects on the fleeting nature of human life, and the eternal mystery of the universe.

"Love, if you love me, lie next to me. Be for me, like rain, the getting out of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi- lust of intentional indifference. Be wet with a decent happiness.

The poem ends on a note of hope and longing, with the speaker reaching out for the comfort and companionship of another human being. In this way, Kinnell touches on one of the most fundamental aspects of the human condition: the need for connection and intimacy with others.

Overall, Poem Of Night is a profound and deeply moving work of modern poetry. Through its rich imagery, powerful language, and universal themes, it speaks to the deepest parts of the human soul, inviting us to explore the mysteries of our own existence and the beauty and wonder of the world around us.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poem Of Night: A Masterpiece of Imagery and Emotion

Galway Kinnell's Poem Of Night is a stunning piece of poetry that captures the essence of the night and the emotions it evokes. With its vivid imagery and powerful language, the poem takes the reader on a journey through the darkness, exploring the beauty and mystery of the night. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem in detail, exploring its themes, structure, and language.

The poem begins with a description of the night sky, with its "blackness and stars." The speaker describes the stars as "pinpricks of light," emphasizing their smallness and insignificance in the vastness of the universe. This image sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it suggests that the night is a place of both beauty and insignificance, a place where the individual is small and insignificant in the face of the universe.

The second stanza of the poem introduces the theme of mortality, as the speaker describes the "long night" that awaits us all. The night is a metaphor for death, and the speaker suggests that we must all face this darkness eventually. However, the poem does not dwell on the fear or sadness that this idea might evoke. Instead, it celebrates the beauty and mystery of the night, suggesting that even in death there is something to be admired and appreciated.

The third stanza of the poem introduces the idea of the night as a place of transformation. The speaker describes how the darkness can change the way we see the world, making even the most mundane objects seem magical and mysterious. This idea is reinforced in the fourth stanza, where the speaker describes the night as a place of "dreams and visions." The night is a place where the imagination can run wild, where anything is possible.

The fifth stanza of the poem introduces the idea of the night as a place of solitude. The speaker describes how the darkness can make us feel alone, but also how it can be a source of comfort and solace. The night is a place where we can be alone with our thoughts and emotions, where we can reflect on our lives and find meaning in the darkness.

The sixth stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful, as the speaker describes the night as a place of love and intimacy. The darkness can bring people together, allowing them to share their deepest emotions and desires. The speaker describes how the night can be a place of "kisses and embraces," suggesting that it is a time when we can connect with others on a deep and meaningful level.

The final stanza of the poem brings all of these themes together, as the speaker describes the night as a place of mystery and wonder. The night is a place where anything is possible, where the imagination can run wild, and where we can find meaning and purpose in the darkness. The speaker suggests that the night is a place of infinite possibility, a place where we can find beauty and meaning in even the darkest of moments.

In terms of structure, the poem is divided into seven stanzas, each with four lines. This structure gives the poem a sense of rhythm and balance, and allows the themes to unfold gradually over the course of the poem. The language of the poem is also worth noting, as it is both simple and powerful. The use of short, declarative sentences gives the poem a sense of urgency and immediacy, while the vivid imagery and metaphors create a sense of depth and complexity.

In conclusion, Galway Kinnell's Poem Of Night is a masterpiece of imagery and emotion. Through its vivid language and powerful imagery, the poem explores the beauty and mystery of the night, and the emotions it evokes. From the theme of mortality to the idea of the night as a place of love and intimacy, the poem captures the many facets of the darkness, and celebrates its beauty and wonder. Whether you are a lover of poetry or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the night, this poem is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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