Say not a word, none is needed.
With a nod, a kneel, a stand, a seat,
or a look, a touch, a smile—
with a step to the side and a seat to the rear,
this is your tongue, say it loud.
This is the only real of it: they are the charms,
the potions, the talismans and the spells we use to cast
ourselves forward in a world that does not want us.
The rest is the illusion we live with: said yesterday,
repeated tomorrow, the on-our-back bite marks
of what none of us can now recall.
If there is a meaning in it at all, it is this:
who we are, for all we are, is what we are—
and that can never be said, let alone known, only done.
And yes, I know, just how ironic that is.
The passage below is from The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-age Warriors from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, by David W. Anthony. It is a book on the Proto-Indo-European language, the language that is the most distant mother tongue of the mother tongues now spoken by more than 50% of the peoples on Earth, including English. I was reading it over the 2012 Holiday week:
In the 1780s, Herder proposed a theory…that language creates the categories and distinctions through which humans give meaning to their world. Each particular language, therefore, generates and is enmeshed in a closed social community or “folk” that is at its core meaningless to an outsider. Language was seen…as a vessel that molded community and national identities.
It was the line “that language creates the categories and distinctions through which humans give meaning to their world” that caught my attention, as too the part about language “molding a community.” In my Faith it is said, “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”
It struck me then that our body language is as much a language that builds our community and our world as do words, and perhaps even more so, and how important this aspect of society is, as we build our personal, “spiritual folk.”
Thank you for reading Shouting magic. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.
PS: I usually write my poetry on a computer but this poem was started in longhand on a flight. I thought you’d appreciate seeing the insanity that is my thought process when I start a poem…
© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.