In Kizer's "Night Sounds," what situation and impressions are brought about by these words in the first stanza: "moonlight," "weeping," "nightmares," "tinged," "terror," and "nostalgia?"

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generally, the first paragraph of a short story or novel can set the mood immediately, and with a poem (and often its title) I find the same thing happens.

In Carolyn Kizer's melancholy "Night Sounds," the words from the first stanza (moonlight, weeping, nightmares, tinged, terror, and nostalgia) set the mood of the poem.

There is sadness or fear associated with each word as follows: "nightmares" and "terror" speak to the fear that often comes in the middle of the night. And while this poem may come from the voice of a woman (a woman would be thought to generally ask her lover to "hold me"), I still get a strong sense that there is something of a child within her, looking for comfort during the late evening hours.

Two other words, "weeping" and "nostalgia," offer up emotions of sadness. These things are always worse at night. However, the final two words provide a sense of hope or survival. Moonlight is a beacon when the night with its bad dreams and loneliness can make the wee hours of the morning passable. The word "tinge" also offers some hope in that it means that something is only slightly "colored" or "affected" by something else, and in this case if these elements of fear or loneliness only tinge the night, we would expect that the speaker will make it through the long night.

In summary, the words listed set the mood: we (as readers) can expect that there will be some fear, loneliness and sadness in the poem, but perhaps hope as well.

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