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God’s Silence by Franz Wright

 

God’s Silence by Franz Wright is a book of questions. As the title would lead one to believe, God’s Silence  leaves the questioner filled with doubt. While reading the book I had forgotten that poems could be so small. The amount of blank page was belittling in itself. The poem “Hell” is an excellent example of some of the questions the book presents in a tight fashion:

But if they were condemned to suffer

this unending torment, sooner or later

wouldn’t they become the holy?

This book is told through one voice, which seems to be the voice of the poet reflecting on his own beliefs about the afterlife. At times mocking and laconic, like the example above, the poetry in this book stems from a need to contact a being that is everywhere and yet denied to him.  I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to experience whiplash between poems like “Alone and Talking Funny” or “Lines Written in the Dark Illegible Next Day” where a reader could wonder whether he is serious or not (the delivery is stream of consciousness to the point where he’s talking to himself within the poems). To poems that are much more heavier in content, but lighter in portrayal likethe last two stanzas of “A Happy Thought”:

What frightened me, apparently, and hurt

was being born. But I got over that

with no hard feelings. Dying, I imagine,

it will be the same deal, lonesomer maybe,

but surely no more shocking or prolonged–

It’s dark as I recall, then bright, so bright.

The sentiments become less addled when considering his use of common themes of light, death, heaven and hell in small ways that ask quintessential questions about what happens when our eyes can no longer take in” God’s silence like the sun/ and [seek] to change.”

–Shatara S. Downs

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