[What horror to awake at night]

By Lorine Niedecker 1903–1970 Lorine Niedecker
What horror to awake at night
and in the dimness see the light.
               Time is white
               mosquitoes bite
I’ve spent my life on nothing.

The thought that stings. How are you, Nothing,
sitting around with Something’s wife.
               Buzz and burn
               is all I learn
I’ve spent my life on nothing.   

I’m pillowed and padded, pale and puffing
lifting household stuffing—
               carpets, dishes
               benches, fishes
I’ve spent my life in nothing.

Lorine Niedecker, “[What horror to awake at night]” from Collected Works, edited by Jenny Penberthy, Copyright © 2002 Regents of the University of California. Published by University of California Press.

Source: Collected Works (University of California Press, 2004)

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Poet Lorine Niedecker 1903–1970

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

Subjects Time & Brevity, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

 Lorine  Niedecker

Biography

Niedecker's verse is praised for its stark, vivid imagery, subtle rhythms, and spare language, which Kenneth Cox described as "whittled clean." Concerned with the distillation of images and thoughts into concise expression, Niedecker described her work as a "condensery," and several critics have compared her poetry to the delicate yet concrete verse of Chinese and Japanese writers. Although Niedecker's long correspondence with

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Time & Brevity, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Objectivist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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