Acquainted with the Night

Insomnia Poems

Edited by Lisa Russ Spaar

Columbia University Press

Acquainted with the Night

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Pub Date: October 1999

ISBN: 9780231115445

208 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $19.95£14.99

Acquainted with the Night

Insomnia Poems

Edited by Lisa Russ Spaar

Columbia University Press

It is the rare individual who has not, at one time or another, been kept awake for hours on end—as the rest of the world, maddeningly, appears to be comfortably lost in the nocturnal world of dreams.

Here is a treasury of verse on the rich subject of insomnia—meditations by poets who have sought to describe their own moments of solitude in darkness, when the world's regular bustle of activity and distraction falls away and they are left to contemplate in silence.

Acquainted with the Night brings together Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop, Rimbaud and Sappho, Shakespeare and Shelley—the great poets of the Western literary heritage—on a theme with which each one has been acutely familiar. Lisa Russ Spaar has also unearthed ruminations on the sleepless nights of poets the world over: in a fascinatingly diverse anthology, she has harvested verse from Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Inuit, Vietnamese, Tamil, Yiddish, and Romanian poets, who together present an illuminating display of insomnia's extraordinary and enduring legacy in widely different cultures through the centuries.

As these exquisite poems chart a course from solitude, through anxiety, to epiphany, the reader truly learns what it means to be acquainted with the night.
This dark-hued but often beautiful anthology offers poems from many cultures. Herbert Kupferberg, Boston Globe
One of the greatest pleasures for me as a poetry lover is to discover a remarkable new anthology full of unfamiliar gems and forgotten classics. Lisa Russ Spaar's Acquainted with the Night is exactly this sort of book—vital, engrossing, and enlarging. Spaar's treatment of her single subject is astonishingly diverse, ranging from ancient Greek to modern Japanese. She mixes compelling poems from Russia, Italy, India, China, Sweden, France, and elsewhere with a striking selection from the English-speaking world. As she explores her dark subject, insomnia becomes a focal point for the human condition. Dana Gioia
One: Solitude and Vigil
Insomnia, by Elizabeth Bishop
Insomnia, by Joyce Carol Oates
Lines Written at Night During Insomnia, by Alexander Pushkin
Insomnia, by Dana Gioia
Insomnia, by Cornelius Eady
Mirrors at 4 A.M., by Charles Simic
What She Said, by Patumanr
The Moon, by Gunnar Ekel
from The Sleepers, by Walt Whitman
Acquainted with the Night, by Robert Frost
from The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth, by William Shakespeare
Insomnia. Homer. Taut sails, by Osip Mandelstam
Insomnia Song, by Gregory Orr
The Bench of Boors, by Herman Melville
Sleep's Underside, by Melissa Kirsch
Insomnia, by Debra Nystrom
On Reading The Book of Odes, by Cao B Qu t
The Insomnia of Tremayne, by Donald Justice
Insomnia, by alvatore Quasimodo
Halcion, by R. T. Smith
Insomniac, by Sylvia Plath
Moonless Night, by Louise Glock
Insomnia at the Solstice, by Jane Kenyon
When Night is almost done [347], by Emily Dickinson
If This Room Is Our World, by Weldon Kees
Midnight Saving Time, by Adrien Stoutenburg
July Dawn, by Louise Bogan
Psalm: The New Day, by Mark Jarman
Two: Anguish and Longing
One Night, by Umberto Saba
I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day, by Gerard Manley Hopkins
When Loneliness Is a Man, by Yusef Komunyakaa
from Night of Hell, by Arthur Rimbaud
Job 7:2--8; 12--15; 20--21, by King James Bible
Lament at Night, by H. Leivick
Night in a Room by the River, by Tu Fu
Ballad of One Doomed to Die, by Federico Garcia Lorca
The Broken Dark, by Robert Hayden
from Macbeth, by William Shakespeare
Apology to Andrew, by Richard Jones
The Cross of Snow, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Exile, by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Tonight I've watched, by Sappho
Aubade, by Philip Larkin
Adolescence--II, by Rita Dove
Dark One,/how can I sleep?, by Mirabai
Bright Venus, who across the heavens stray, by Louise Lab
The Pains of Sleep, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
For whatever animals dwell on earth, by Petrarch
Come sleep, Oh sleep, the certain knot of peace, by Sir Philip Sidney
Is it thy will thy image should keep open, by William Shakespeare
The Night Alone, by Meleagros
Bread and Wine, by Nina Cassian
She Speaks to Her Husband, Asleep, by Robert Schultz
Nevertheless the moon, by Muriel Rukeyser
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed, by William Shakespeare
How can I then return in happy plight, by William Shakespeare
The Late Hour, by Mark Strand
Three: Epiphany and Vision
The Appalachian Book of the Dead III, by Charles Wright
To the monk at Thanh-phong Monastery, by King Tron Th i-t"ng
from Winter, by Ryokan
Utitia'q's Song [Inuit]
At the end of a crazy-moon night, by Lalla
Relentlessly Lovelorn, the Non-Sleeper Whispers and Re-Whispers a Magic Charm Against His Wound's Roar, by Stephen Margulies
Make the Bed, by Stephen Cushman
Insomnia, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
White Night, by Mary Oliver
Stars, by Emily Brontâ
Bright Star, by John Keats
Owl, by Robert Mezey
Insomnia on a Summer Night, by Umberto Saba
Insomnia, by Tristan Corbiäre
A Clear Midnight, by Walt Whitman
His Lamp Near Daybreak, by Yannis Ritsos
Night-Time: Starting to Write, by Bernard Spencer
Gift of the Poem, by Stephane Mallarm
Anecdote of the Prince of Peacocks, by Wallace Stevens
hototogisu/hototogisu tote/akeni keri, by Kaga no Chiyo
Astronomies and slangs to find you, dear, by John Berryman
from Insomnia, by Marina Tsvetaeva
My night awake (from The Speed of Darkness), by Muriel Rukeyser
The Night Person, by Richard Frost

About the Author

Lisa Russ Spaar is a lecturer in creative writing and the administrator of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing in the English Department at the University of Virginia. Collections of Spaar's own poetry include Blind Boy on Skates and Glass Town.