"Sound of Night" Maxine Kumin

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In her poem “The Sound Of Night”, Maxine Kumin recalls an experience outside with other people at night time when a whole other world comes out. She describes the many animals that thrive in the night and make noises that can be interpreted as threatening. The author appears scared of the unknown and what could be lurking in it’s dark depths.

The title, “The Sound Of Night”, makes the reader begin to ponder what sounds they associate with night. I associate night with chirps and whistles and creaks and rain drops. Many people may think of night as silent and serene while actually a lot happens during the night. As in the poem, animals such as birds, frogs, bats, fish, and others continue their lives impervious to the setting sun or come out to begin their days in nocturnal happiness. Kumin uses her title to relate to her theme of fearing the unknown that can be hiding where you can’t see.

In her poem, Kumin uses the literary device of imagery to create the fearful vivid picture in the mind of the reader. For example, Kumin describes the as “our firework bright and hot” in a stark contrast against the cold dark night she has described so far. The author also uses imagery while describing waiting for “the crease of first eye-licking light”, or sunrise. Again, the appearance of light and warmth is such a contrast to the night that the rays would lick the author’s eyes.

The author also uses the device of personification to make the night seem more alive than it already is. In having the dark doing the action of coming on, Kumin makes the dark something capable of action or “verbing”. The active dark is suddenly more frightening than the stable, stagnant one. Again, the dark is personified when Kumin says “we defend ourselves from dark.” Now that dark needs defending against, the night is even more foreboding and unwelcome to Kumin and her fellow adventurers.

Kumin’s poem explores the night that we don’t know. She enlightens us to the kind of animals thrive...
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