Talking Back to Rilke with the Poetry Princesses [Poetry Friday]

Happy Poetry Friday! Welcome, everyone! (Wondering what Poetry Friday is? Click here.)


So, this month, our Poetry Princess challenge was to talk back to a Rilke poem. I love the idea of poems in response to other poems. But Rilke? Sheesh. Talking back seems so impertinent! But that’s the beauty of poetry. There is room for every voice.

Sara came up with this month’s challenge, and she chose this beauty for us to respond to:


You, darkness, of whom I am born—
I love you more than the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illumines
and excludes all the rest.
But the dark embraces everything
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations—just as they are.
It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me
I believe in the night.
—Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy 

I always seem to have plenty to say about poems, but I was a bit hesitant on this one. Not sure why. Maybe it’s because there are times I LOVE the dark, but what kept coming out was an argument against Rumi. Who am I to argue with Rumi? But every poem pretty much captures the poet’s thoughts at the time of writing. I could write this poem one day, and an ode to the darkness the next. So, there ya go.

Talking Back to Rilke

Don’t forget to catch up with all the Poetry Princesses, who have been busy with moves, running events, birthdays, kids, jobs, and life!  But I love that we’re still doing poetry anyway!




Non-poetry demands are keeping Andi away this month, but she’ll return.


Click here to see all our previous Poetry Princesses collaborations. 

Steel Magnolia Irene at Live Your Poem is rounding us up this week, so check out the Poetry Friday Roundup for more goodies. (I think of her that way because she is so gracious and sweet and pretty–but so smart and heartstrong.) Irene is also doing ARTSPEAK poems AND her annual Progressive Poem! How on earth is she managing all that!















17 Responses

  1. “We pretend nothing dangerous/slouches alongside us” gave me shivers. So much truth in this poem.

  2. Ha, I am constantly talking back to poems! I can be very ornery that way. But it helps me to zero in on how I really feel about something. And yes, that should totally go in a poem! I particularly love “I love you only when your back/ is broken.” Beautiful, intriguing lines! xo

  3. I can understand that ambivalence toward darkness and love the line “I love you only when your back/is broken.” It seems I’ve been thinking a lot about darkness the past few years after reading Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark. It’s a fascinating look at what darkness can offer us once we let go of our fear of it.

  4. I have never heard of talking back to poems. Goodness — Australia needs to catch up on on some poetry love!! Your poem is fabulous — and I’m with Irene about a fave line. Wow. Very intriguing!

  5. This year I read a book about the history of night, focused on Britain and the terrors before any kind of lighting, etc. Your poem brought some of that back, the idea of the need to confront the dark. It’s a wonderful retort to the poem.

  6. HAH! ‘precioussss whispers.’
    I think Gollum is a bit hard to ignore. But, yes: we ignore what’s right beside us until it’s no longer convenient to pretend. THAT in itself is a poem topic…

  7. Love what you ended up with (image and all). Rilke was really something, huh?

  8. Wow! What an intriguing (and somewhat daunting) challenge. I would hesitate to talk back to Rumi, too, but I love what you captured in the moment of your poem, Laura. And oh my, those last two lines… they’re killer!

  9. I really like the revisions you made to this. You had so many good ideas among all your drafts. I still love the image that comes with the “needled fang of night.”

  10. I love this as well as the graphic you chose. My son, when he was two, yelled at the dark.… “Hey, dark! Where is your moon?” Such a moment of seeing a kid SEE the darkness as a being. I catch such a menacing tone in this with things in the dark watching and waiting for us. I’d much rather hang out in the star light where there is some kindness!

  11. No fear in talking back, Laura—you have a clear voice and arguments aplenty. And here—here you’ve woven darkness and pretense together, letting your thoughts slip in and out of certainty until you spring your final line. Which sends me right back to your beginning: I love you only when your back is broken, indeed. Well-done, poetry talker.

  12. Yes, we need to pay attention to the darkness, no matter how scary it is!

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,500 other subscribers

Are You Looking For?

Poetry Friday posts

Classroom Connections posts

All my poetryactions

Go to my Poetry page for:

  • National Poetry Month projects through the years
  • Small Reads Roundups (poems grouped by topic)
  • Introductions to several favorite poetry forms
#waterpoemproject15 Words or Less Poems20for2030 Painless Classroom Poems50 State Poemsacrosticsactivity pagesactivity sheetALAA Leaf Can Be...Amy Ludwig VanDerwaterA Need to FeedanthologiesanthologyA Rock Can projectsaudiopoemsawardsbad newsBarbara Juster EsbensenBilly Collinsbiopoemsblog tourbookalikesbook festivalsBookSpeak!book spine poemsbook trailersbop poembyr a thoddaidcafepresscalendar poemsCamp Read-a-LotCan Be... bookscan be... poemsCapstoneCarol Varsalonacascade poemsCatherine FlynnCCRA.W.3CCRA.W.4CCRA.W.5centoschapter bookschoral compositionschristina rossetticinquainsCLAclassified ad poemsclassroom connectionclassroom connectionsClover Kittyconferences and conventionscrown sonnetscybilsdansaDare to DreamDavid Elliottdeeper wisdom poemdefinitosdiamantesdiversitydizaindodoitsuDot DayDouglas Floriandownloadablesdrum corpse.e. cummingsekphrastic poemsepistolary poemsequation poemsessentialethereeseventsexquisite corpseFairy Tale Garage Salefamilyfibonaccifiction picture booksfinding familyfirefightersforeign editionsfound poemsfree author zoomsfree versefrom studentsgeesegeorgia heardghazalGift Taggiveawaygolden shovelgoldilocksgratitudehaikuheart of aheart of a teacherHeidi MordhorstHelen FrostHighlightshow-to poemshow to make a rainbowI Am FromI Am poemsidiomsif you want to knit some mittensIf You Were the MoonILAimagepoemsinterviewin the middle of the nightIRAIrelandIrene LathamJ. Patrick LewisJanet WongJoyce SidmanKendraKerlanKidlit Comboslailaura's board booksLaura's booksLaura's poemsLaura's readingsLaura ShovanLee Bennett HopkinsLilian MoorelimericksLinda Booth SweeneyLine Leads the WayLion of the Skylist poemslittle free librarylive writingLullaby and Kisses Sweetlyricsmadness poetrymargaret simonMarilyn Singermary lee hahnmask poemsMeet My FamilyMelissa StewartMentors for Rentmentor textsmetaphorMichelle Myers LacknerMillbrookMinnesota Book Awardsmoonmy reading lifemy writing processN+7naaninarrative poemsNational Poetry Month 2012 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2014 (riddle-ku)National Poetry Month 2015National Poetry Month 2016National Poetry Month 2017 (#wonderbreak)national poetry month 2018 (haiku a day)National Poetry Month 2020National Poetry Month 2021 (#EquationPoem)national poetry month 2022 (sticky-note poems)National Poetry Month 2023 (Digging for Poems)National Poetry Month 2024 (magnipoems)ncteNerdy Book Clubnifty newsnifty stuffNikki Grimesnonfictionnonfiction booksNonfiction Writers Dig Deepnovelsnovels in verseodesOne Minute Till BedtimeoppositifyOskar's VoyagepadletpantoumsparodiesPatreonpeacepersonalpet poemsphotopoetryphrase acrosticspicture booksplagiarismpoempicspoemspoems for two voicespoemsketchpoetic pursuitsPoetry 7poetryactionspoetry activitiesPoetry Blastpoetry booksPoetry FridayPoetry Friday AnthologiesPoetry Princessespoetry promptspoetry sistersPoetry Tips for Teachersprogressive poempublishing processpuddle songPutridquotationsraccontinosRandy Salasread-aloudreadaloudreading poetry in the classroomRebecca Kai Dotlichrecipe poemsrefugeesresearchreview copiesreviewsrevisionrhyming booksrhyming nonfictionrhyming picture booksRhyming Picture Books the Write Wayrhyming poemsRiddle-kuriddle poemsRock Can Be...Rock the Blogrondeau redoublesRudyard Kiplingsalas snippetsSCBWIschool visitsScotlandseasonssecrets of the loonSELsestinasshrinking daysskinnyskypeslice of lifesmall readssnack snooze skedaddlesnowman-coldsonnetsStampede!storm poemstorytimestorywalkstudent poemsstudent workSylvia VardellTanita Davistankatautogramteachableteacher resourcesteen/adult poemsterza rimasthankfulthank yous and referencesthe business sidethings to do iftracy nelson maurertrioletstunie munson-bensonvideosVikram MadanvillanellevillanellesWater Can Be...wealthy elementaryWe BelongWhat's InsideWhy-kuwinterwonderwonderbreakword of the yearwordplaywordsmithswork for hirewritingwriting bookswriting processwriting promptswriting the life poeticyoung authors conferencesYouTubeZap Clap Boomzenozentangle
Show More Show Less

Join Laura's monthly newsletter for eductators

Get three of Laura's favorite poetry activities when you subscribe to "Small Reads."