Under All Silences Critical Essays



(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Gordon credits her youthful audience with having the maturity to experience love through the beauty of other people’s words. The gentle affection that is portrayed in the early poems soon warms to passion and intimacy that only a lover can know. Such a lover, however, may be one who has loved in the flesh or in the heart—and these poems assure readers of both the difference and the sameness. Gordon prefaces her book with a comment about being struck dumb by strong emotions, the ones felt in all stages of love. She lets the reader know that she has chosen these poems so that feelings can find release, expressing the love that is under all the silences.

In exploring these poems, readers will notice several themes. Composed as a popular song and made popular by Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” begins the book with the rapture of initial love—the experience of love at first sight. Next, folksinger Joan Baez offers a gentle love song: She does not want to be told of eternal love; she simply wants to know of passionate strangers, of a selfishness in wanting but not giving. Then, a Hebrew poem allows the reader to compare the love of a woman to the beauty of an apple.

Several short, sweet Japanese poems reveal deeper meanings than the few phrases representing their thoughts. A seventh century Greek poem wonders at a lover’s presence and laments her absence. A series of poems speaks of the bliss of two being together...

(The entire section is 551 words.)