Sound of Silence

The last few days, I’ve included rather short intros to the poems I’m featuring. I’ve been busy. I’ve been stressed. But today, oh ho, today I am going to rant. This is not the omg-my-day-sucked-let-me-tell-you-all-about-it rant. They have their place, but this is not it. This is the other type of rant, the omg-I-have-the-most-amazing-thing-I-need-to-tell-you rant. Because today I get to tell you about one of my favorite authors.

By now I’ve mentioned several favorite authors, or at least several favorite poets, but this is the top shelf. This is a passion on par with my passion for Peter Pan and James Barrie. This is a passion which my friend, Ivy, uses to define me with. Seriously, her impression of me is “let me tell you about The Name of the Wind, it changed my life!” At which point, I look at her and think, you know me too well. So, as you may have guessed, my “poem” today is The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss because… well, because it changed my life.

My love for The Name of the Wind is three fold. First, because it is just freakin’ beautifully written. I opened got to sentence four and thought, this is going to be one of the best books I’ve ever read. Second, it is, in a way, about storytelling. And I love a good storytelling story. Third, and most important is because at the time that I read this book, I had stopped writing for several months. I didn’t realize how broken I was until I saw that broken-ness reflected in Rothfuss’s protagonist. (If you’ve read the story that sounds a little ridiculous because Kvothe’s life obviously sucks way more than mine, but it’s the case nevertheless.) For April 5, I mentioned Phillip Pullman as another novelist-poet. I like to joke that Pullman broke my soul and Rothfuss put it back together.

I could go on forever, so I will attempt to skip to the point now. Let me take you for a walk through his prologue and show you exactly why I love this:

Rothfuss opens with “It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.” Okay, I love this line for the subject matter. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of the “sound” of silence since I was like… five. My early, grim, high-school poetry often features silence screaming. Furthermore, Rothfuss does an excellent job describing the silence by describing what is around it.

Then, there is the aforementioned fourth sentence which I shouldn’t have to say anything about: “If there had been wind it would have sighed through the trees, set the inn’s sign to creaking on its hooks, and brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves.” Excuse me while I repeat the last part. “brushed the silence down the road like trailing autumn leaves.” Wow.

Then he introduces the second silence, saying, “it made an alloy of sorts, a counterpoint.” Somewhere on his blog, I found a link to interview where he talks about getting criticized for using “alloy” and “counterpoint” together. I think this is hilarious because that is why I love this sentence. And this passage.

He spends the most time detailing the third silence, ending with “it was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.” Bringing this is as the final image of the passage gives it a heavy impact. (I still remember first reading the first page of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which also ends in the idea of death and having the same sort of reaction.) But all of this aside, again, I say wow.

I would love to quote the whole prologue at you, but I suspect it’s better if you can read if yourself without me commenting over your shoulder the whole way.


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