Saturday, June 23, 2012

Poetry Prompt #106 – Listen to the Silence

Danish philosopher Kierkegaard once wrote, "The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and I were asked for my advice, I should reply: 'Create silence! Bring people to silence.'"Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence ... we need silence to be able to touch souls.” And Chinese Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu, wrote, “Silence is a source of great strength.”

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our noisy world, why is silence important to you and how do you create or find it? Where do you find peaceful places where there is little or no noise to distract you (at the seashore, in the forest, in a place of worship)? What is the power of silent places? Why is a measure of silence important? Is silence important in your personal creative process?

This week, let’s look at silence and what it means to us and, then, let’s write a poem that in some way, “speaks” of silence.


Questions to Consider before Writing:

How do you define “silence?”
What does the term “perfect silence” mean to you?
How are silence and stillness related?
Can you list several places in which you have found (or continue to find) a special kind of silence?
What’s the difference between actual silence and spiritual silence?
How may silence be more powerful than a scream?
How is silence the space between two thoughts?
How does silence between the notes give music its meaning? (Does this suggest any metaphors for your poem?)

"If you are a writer you locate yourself behind a wall of silence
and no matter what you are doing, driving a car or walking or doing housework
you can still be writing, because you have that space."

– Joyce Carol Oates


  1. I haven't heard the old S&G song in years - always loved it. There's a "spirituality of silence" that I sometimes find in poems. I'm so glad you introduced this as a prompt! Thanks, as always!


    P.S. I wonder how high school students would work with this prompt. Could be interesting.

    1. Thanks, Jamie! I know what you mean about the "Spirituality of Silence" in certain poems.

  2. It's a total cliche, but silence really is golden. We all need quiet and stillness. Another great prompt idea!

  3. a sound
    out of the void
    breaking the vast silence
    oh, ah
    we have vocal cords!
    ah, oh
    we fill the silence
    with noise junk
    the pristine landscape
    creating virtual garbage dumps and toxic landfills
    Be Quiet!

    1. Yes, Risa! Your message is well taken (there's way too much
      noise junk" in this world). Thanks for posting your poem.

  4. Great message there, Risa! Thanks for sharing!


  5. I meant to go with contemplative silence but ended up somewhere else entirely.

  6. Thanks so much, Annette! Isn't it wonderful how a poem takes its own direction? I left a comment on your blog.

  7. I thought ( like you and your readers)I love silence but after this movie..., I really have some doubts!
    I discovered I am not be able to "listen" silence ( I mean absolute silence...)

    1. I just saw the YouTube video you posted the link for! I agree with you!

    2. Jago, a strangely disturbing video, but interesting to reflect upon.


    3. Jago,

      The video is wild! It's amazing what these prompts of Adele's bring into our imaginations.
      Thanks for posting the link.

      (Readers, did you know that in comments like these, if you highlight the url and then right click on it, you can click on "Go To Address" and open the link? Try it with Jago's YouTube link:

  8. Ciao a Bob§ and Jamie.
    (if you interesting about the video:
    I wonder why that deep silence make me feel just like reflecting in a broken mirror, or like a fallen star looking for the lost sky...
    ( very strange metaphors I know, but I could not sleep this night!)

    1. Jago, I hope you were able to write something during that sleepless night! I've watched the video a few times, and my reaction remains the same - there's something haunting about it, but in a good way.


  9. Jamie, you are right. The video is really haunting. Be aware, the whole movie is about 160 min.!

    Usually during sleepless nights there are a lot of good ideas to write, luckily they vanish into the thin air of the dawn...

    Adele, thanks for your words about my metaphors!

    1. Jago,

      Imagine watching "silence" for 160 minutes!

      Your images are exactly what we would expect from a translator of your high caliber!

  10. An important topic to ponder, Adele...I love the quotes you've gathered, also. :) Thank you!