Reflection on the reading of “Night” by Louise Bogan

I chose to present the poem “Night” because it’s simplistic title caught my attention and I liked the imagery of the poem. While preparing for the oral reading of “Night”, the poetic devices that Bogan uses were the first things that I focused on. Epizeuxis was one of the most significant features of the poem so in my reading, I emphasized the words “breathe” and “drink” more than others. In addition to this, deciding when and how long to pause at the end of each line factored into my preparation; the poem is only end-stopped at the end of each stanza, with the rest of the lines having enjambment. Pausing too long would have broken the flow of the poem; however the enjambment necessitates some pausing at the end of lines. Preparing for an oral reading of a poem allowed me to notice things I normally wouldn’t; the sounds of the words and the progression from line to line are extremely important. I also found that reading a poem out loud draws more attention to its poetic devices. My presentation could have been improved with more memorization of the poem; I had gotten slightly nervous and had to glance at my book very often, which made maintaining eye contact with the class difficult. I also would have emphasized the “s” sounds in the poem; there is a lot of sibilance throughout the poem that I hadn’t noticed at first.

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2 thoughts on “Reflection on the reading of “Night” by Louise Bogan

  1. Hi, Stephanie. You did an excellent job of presenting the poem to your class. You paced yourself very well and read the free-verse lines in a way that sounded natural. As well as your attention to repetition and enjambment, I appreciated the way you described the way Bogan’s stanzas contracted in length, corresponding to the “narrowing dark hours” to which the poet refers. I think you’re correct that the poem establishes a connection, as well as a contrast, between the external world and mental life, but I thought you could have developed that thought further. Where is the opposition between human and nonhuman most pronounced, or obscured? How does the suggestion of death at the end change the meaning of the earlier stanzas?

    • I think that the most pronounced human/nonhuman occurs in the last stanza, where the first mention of a person in the line “your narrowing dark hours” occurs. The lines before this don’t mention any people at all, although perhaps the personification of the water and stars gives these inanimate things a human quality. When the reader reaches the last stanza, they are reminded that their own life is not eternal, but nature is. I think that the last stanza changes the mood of the poem to a much colder one; a single human life is very insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

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