I can relate to the silence of Alaskan winters. There are days that I just want to sit and enjoy the lack of sound. I enjoy living where I can easily escape it all. I think for poetry to be truly understood and felt that the author needs to incorporate as many senses as he can. Haines does this in most of his poems so that the reader can feel as though they are there witnessing all of these things for themselves. Also, hearing the poems aloud gives them a certain body that they can’t have when read.
Sound implementation was important to Haines as he was becoming a poet. It was something he consciously paid attention to while practicing his craft. Haines listened; sound was not just something heard and then forgotten. It was not solely an element experimented with, as writers are apt to do; rather, for Haines, sound and meaning were intermixed. The end result was a better understanding of his own presence in his new surroundings. Importantly, sound would become for Haines a major tool in his own writings.
“At Slim’s River” and “The Sun on Your Shoulder” exhibit the silence in nature. He writes about a “keen silence” in the poem “At Slim’s River”. These categories mirror the world Haines knows and what he has experienced; they demonstrate that Haines wants his audience to not just read and listen, but imagine and contemplate. Haines’s poems require one to see and hear. Haines is both painter and poet to his audience. These silences generally reflect the poem as a whole entity, and this is one reason why the word shows up so frequently–each scenario, in each poem, has its own silences in addition to sounds.