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The Task of Silence

by Liminality


She knows her silence has no human face,
and yet she hears it speaking, clear as day,
inside her study – more a window than a place
its words are small but nimble as they sway.

Nothing like the honey-bulbous sounds
that ooze from friends outside who laugh and jest,
nothing like the syrup making rounds
of nocturnal speech as they escape the nest.

Behind the frosted glass, it lingers, still,
and crouching as though bearing some great weight.
The powder-smell of springtime daffodil
is undecided between love and hate.

For if we want to be a silent stone,
we realise we must do it all alone.



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Author's Note: Questions for reviewers!

1. What do you think of the imagery (mainly sensory descriptions like sight, sound, smell, etc.)? Are there any contrasting parts you notice?
2. How vague or cryptic is this poem?
3. What do you think of the change from “she” to “we”?
4. Is it clear that Silence is meant to be the central figure of the poem, almost like a personification?


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164 Reviews

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Sat Sep 23, 2023 3:23 am
AyumiGosu17 wrote a review...



1. What do you think of the imagery (mainly sensory descriptions like sight, sound, smell, etc.)? Are there any contrasting parts you notice?
I found it very interesting how you interlaced sound (silence) with tactile textures. It's really a beautiful case of metaphor and irony working together, because effective poetry and dramatic speakers do have that sense of fluidity in their language. Giving "silence" a clear quality while giving "speech" a more fluid expression made your poem feel more fluid, as if the silence actually can speak.

2. How vague or cryptic is this poem?
The poem is a little cryptic, in general, but that suits it. Silence really can have multiple meanings, and leaving the poem vague and cryptic allows the reader a chance to interpret it through their own experiences.

3. What do you think of the change from “she” to “we”?
Changing from the singular perspective (she) to the plural (we) was an impactful change that ties back to the vaguity of the poem. Although silence can mean many different things for many different people, shifting to that plural perspective suggests a sense of unity in silence. It validates how silence feels, and it brings all the perspectives together, which is ironic in that the speaker says "we must do it all alone." Are these women who are struggling with being silenced actually alone, or do they just feel like they're alone? That's a great juxtaposition you've created.

4. Is it clear that Silence is meant to be the central figure of the poem, almost like a personification?
Absolutely! Silence here is 100% personified, although it is applied indirectly. Direct personification is naming the human qualities specifically to the abstract/inhuman thing ("the moon's face, the leaves dance"); however, indirect personification, like your first two verses - "She knows her SILENCE has no human face, / and yet she hears IT SPEAKING, clear as day," - contributes to that beautiful, fluid, lyrical quality that you've given this poem.

Kudos for maintaining the iambic pentameter and alternating couplets that is characteristic of a Shakespearean Sonnet. Bravo! All in all, if this was something that I saw in my classroom, this would score in the 90-100% range. Good job!




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Wed Sep 20, 2023 7:41 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



I love the imagery. It’s very descriptive and fun. It gets you in the mood of the poem. The poem itself is cryptic enough to be a riddle, but clear to understand what you mean.

I like the change. It’s going from talking about one person to all of us. It’s a powerful change that tells how real silence is.

Yes, it is clear that Silence in this poem is almost like a sentient being.

I wish you a lovely day/night.




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Wed Sep 20, 2023 7:22 pm
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ariah347 wrote a review...



Hello! First off, hope all is well in your world and I enjoyed reading this! Let's get to my review and then the subsequent questions. Side note, I think it's neat that you are engaging your reviewers that way. Alrighty, here we go... In terms of the poem, it was a fairly easy read, but the rhyme scheme changing threw me off a little. This is mainly my only sidebar or critique. Otherwise, I really found it to be descriptive and really enhanced my visualizations beyond an image and made it more immersive. I really love the clear thought behind the use of each sense. Onto your questions! 1) For sight, the following stands out: I pictured syrup, a nest, frosted glass, daffodils, and stones. Syrup is sticky and sweet whereas a nest has many different textures depending on the material used to make it. If it is straw, sticks or hay, it can have a jagged and "pokey" rough feeling. Glass has several characteristics: smooth, smoky (frosted in this case), and even an element of light as depending on how light shines through it, there may be a prism of color! Daffodils and stones are very contrasting as one is rough, hard, and sturdy while the other is delicate, silky, and soft. For sounds, the following stands out: silence, speaking, honey-bulbous sounds (which I pictured loud), laughing, and whispers in the night for nocturnal speech. The variety of volume and tone set each sound to create a variety. For smell, I envisioned the smell of honey/syrup (sweet), and a variety of nature smells: flowers, stone, nest. These different natural scents really enhance the visuals as well. Their interaction brings a syncopation that piques the overall poem as a whole. You even have a taste with the honey and syrup although you do not directly describe or elaborate on that. 2) This poem is vague and cryptic enough that it makes something as abstract and hard to describe as "silence" quite concrete and specific within the "tasks" you have expressed. 3) I'll be honest. I did not notice the different pronouns of "she" to "we." I went back and reread the poem with that added awareness. I wonder the intent behind that, finding it interesting, but not obvious. 4) Yes, like I described in question two. You have really taken something that is not an object and objectified it with your use of descriptions and sensual elements. Overall, I found this to be inspiring! Wishing you well wherever you are in the world <3




Liminality says...


Thanks for the review! I guess it's hard to notice the shift in pronouns in such a short space haha - Shakespearan sonnets are only 14 lines, after all. The rhyme scheme and stanza structure here are mostly adhering to the Shakespearan sonnet. I hadn't noticed that the imagery had a lot to do with natural motifs when I was writing it myself, so thanks for that observation!




"I think; therefore, I am."
— René Descartes