[The house was just twinkling in the moon light]

The house was just twinkling in the moon light,   
And inside it twinkling with delight,
Is my baby bright.
Twinkling with delight in the house twinkling   
with the moonlight,
Bless my baby bless my baby bright,
Bless my baby twinkling with delight,
In the house twinkling in the moon light,
Her hubby dear loves to cheer when he thinks
and he always thinks when he knows and he always   
knows that his blessed baby wifey is all here and he
is all hers, and sticks to her like burrs, blessed baby

Gertrude Stein, “[The house was twinkling in the moon light]” from Baby Precious Always Shines: Selected Love Notes Between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (St. Martin’s Press, 1999). Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gertrude Stein.
Source: Baby Precious Always Shines: Selected Love Notes Between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas (St. Martin's Press LLC, 1999)

Writing Ideas

1. Write a playful poem to someone you love, using Stein’s repeated words (“bright,” “delight,” “light”), or a few of your own.


2. Starting with a complicated or emotionally difficult proposition like an affair or death, write a poem that reads like a children’s nursery rhyme and seemingly simplifies the situation.


3. Rewrite Stein’s poem from baby bright’s (or hubby dear’s) perspective; rather than looking into the house, look out of its windows to imagine the lover looking in.


Discussion Questions

1. What is the poem’s tone? What story does it tell? How does Stein suggest that story with simple, child-like words and repetition?


2. Stein’s poem is full of repetitions. In how many different senses does Stein use  words like “twinkling” and “baby” in the poem? In what ways does Stein alter phrases and words to change their meanings?


3. What do you think is the speaker’s relationship to “baby bright”? By narrating the story of both “baby” and “hubby dear,” what does the speaker reveal about his or her own perspective? Does that perspective seem to shift during the poem? Who do you think is telling this story and why?

Teaching Tips

1. After listening to the poem at least twice, have small groups write out the poem on large sheets of chart paper, leaving enough space to write between lines. With colored markers have students circle and connect repeated words and phrases, creating a kind of map from one part of the poem to another. With additional colors, have them highlight connecting sounds, such as “ink” which appears in a number of words. Finally, ask them to draw lines dividing sections of the poem by identifying different stories, settings, types of images, ideas, or purposes, etc.


2. After several close readings, have students write a brief description (a paragraph or so) of this love note as a work of art. The description should walk readers through an interpretation of the meaning or purpose of each section of the poem, highlighting structural elements that give it form. Share models of good writing about poetry and discuss effective strategies for making such arguments.


3. Have students create a single-character comic strip depicting the emotional drama the speaker of the poem experiences. Students can either use computer software (such as Comic Life for PC or Mac), or they can make a storyboard out of photographs or sketches they draw.


More Poems by Gertrude Stein