Night Personal Response – We Still Believed

As children we ran

Carefree through the streets

Looking at the stars

We still believed

The adults started talking differently

Hushed voices and newspapers

Things I once saw every day

Hidden away

But the adults said that all would be fine, that everything would be quite alright

We still believed

Then, one night: Saturday

Expelled from home and crammed into crates

Time passed; a sudden stop

Shouts of,”Get Out!”

And so we did

A man with a baton walked up

Pointing left and right

Father and I right

Mother and everyone else left

Fear strung up in the air, tears forming in my eyes

Father patted my head as he said,

“Not now, save the tears for later. I have you and you have me.”

We still believed

Time passed

Wrath of the guards ever-present

Friends began to disappear

Food, food was all I craved

But all they would say is, “Run! Or  I’ll shoot!”

Oh father, where are your wise words?

Father? Father!

Where is he? Where is he?

I found him, lying still, no, no!

He looked up to me

One last time

“Not now, don’t shed tears now,” he uttered, 

“Follow my wise words: you will survive, you will live to see the end.”

And so I looked him in the eyes

Saw the man I once hoped to be

Gone

Still like a corpse in my arms. 

I still believed

Time passed

Too much time to keep track

Darkness surrounding my every move

Gunshots, explosions, screams one night

Fear, but numbed

Like a corpse I stumbled on through

Until the shaking of the earth gave way

And so, I let it take me

Consume me beneath the stomping feet

For I once believed

And now I believe no more

Quite frankly, I struggled when it came to writing this personal response. When we first began reading ‘Night’, I was looking at it through the eyes of logic, rather than attempting to immerse myself in the story. To compromise, I pretended as though I was someone going through the same events as others in the concentration camps in an attempt to see things on the same level of Elie.

With this poem, it was based loosely upon the events that occurred within the novel, albeit, with a different ending. The central idea of the poem is that of perseverance. The repetition of the phrase: “We still believed,” or other variants of it help highlight how despite the darkness surrounding the person, they keep pushing through with all their might. However, the phrase mentioned undergoes as the poem progresses. A change in the phrase gives way to how the will to live is slowly being withered away until they reach the point where they are just a corpse. All sense of personality or soul eroded away as a result of the living conditions. 

Just like Elie, the person in the poem relies on their relationship with his father as motivation to keep living. But both are slowly fractured as time moves on, leaving them vulnerable. By the time the person’s father passes, the person I wrote about is beyond repair and instead decides to give up as demonstrated by the lines, “So, I let it take me / Consume me beneath the stomping feet.”

The time before the concentration camp is given more lines to show how dynamic life once was, before repetitive misery swallowed up the people as they were transferred to concentration camps. Meanwhile, life after the death of their father is given fewer lines as a way to bring forth how life finally lost its appeal. This replicates Elie’s writing as after his father’s death, all sense of time is lost as all concerns about living vanish. 

Overall, the poem is connecting to how Elie presented his issue with trying to persevere onward through all the darkness that encased him. The poem follows how the determination to keep going is severely hindered with the death of the person’s father, which closely replicates how Elie felt during that such event. Both of them end up feeling like corpses with Elie stating, “From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me.” (115) and in my poem, “Fear, but numbed / Like a corpse I stumbled on through.” While Elie continued to push forward until liberation, the person in my written piece fails to find the spark to keep living. Therefore, the person surrenders themselves to death. With that, the phrase shifts from, “I still believed,” to “For I once believed,” as a final indicator that the end has arrived.

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2 thoughts on “Night Personal Response – We Still Believed

  1. Dear Kaydence,
    I think choosing to write your personal response in a poetic format was a great idea. You created a parallel between the hopeful resiliency of Sighet’s Jews and your protagonist, doing so in a way that reflected on the emotional connections formed between the reader and the Jew. Which is ironic, because you say you struggled to connect to Eliezer, and yet your words immersed me in his world. In the lines “And so, I let it take me, consume me beneath the stomping feet…” you personified fear, (at least, it seems to be fear you’re referring to in those lines), and chose to use a powerful metaphor of stomping feet that made me question if it was actually a metaphor, or a literate death by a slip of the foot and a never-ending military march. The repetition at the end of every stanza created a rising action leading to a sudden drop, “I believe no more”, a dynamic and eloquent ending. Your writing is intentional, Kaydence, and I really appreciate that.

    As for improvements, there’s honestly not much I can say. I felt that the rhythm in the first few stanzas of the poem was a little off, but everybody’s experience reading a poem can vary greatly, so perhaps it is just me. “The adults started talking differently, hushed voices and newspapers. Things I once saw every day, hidden away. But the adults said it was okay, that it was all fine.”
    Perhaps a little more specificity would balance the lines out: what things were hidden away? (I find this difficult to explain, so disregard the comment if you wish :’)

    Overall, the parallel you created — the graduate loss of hope — it felt meaningful, and I’m happy I clicked on your blog and had the privilege of reading it. I find it upsetting that we didn’t get to know each other during school, and might never get the chance to do so. (Because I may have to leave FFCA.) But reading other’s works makes me feel connected to them in a more subtle and multi-faceted way, and I’m glad I took the opportunity with your piece.

    Sincerely,
    Kate

    1. Kate,

      I wanted to begin with the simple fact that I truly appreciate the time you took to read my piece. Along with that, I am grateful for the effort you put into providing me with feedback.

      In terms of the feedback you provided, I found it quite useful. It made me take a second glance at that section of my poem and I realized that some parts of my poem don’t necessarily flow well. (I might just go back and edit it later. Thanks for the heads up!)

      Your comment simply made my heart melt and I would love to give a big thank you for the kind words and great advice you provided for me. I can see myself taking the tips you have given and implementing them into my future writing. Take care and and enjoy your day! :))

      Sincerely,
      Kaydence

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