Words

Out of growls of vowels we formed our tongue
From howling sounds of hunger from the mouthings of our young
To shouts of warning, wails of mourning, rousing battle cries
The pity-seeking whimpers, the pained and pleasured sighs

From these instinctive urges our early words will form
Till language now emerges like Babel through the storm
Forefathers’ words can still be heard long after they depart
So mystical and mythical, their words outlive their heart

We scratched in stone our stories, we etched our truths in bark
From ink and quill to digital, we speak across the dark
Every generation’s lexis finds its own new webs to weave
Is it language that reflects us, does it shape how we perceive?

All the prose and poems on pages we wrote never to be read
If words aren’t shared with others, does it matter what we said?
Which came first, our thoughts or words, of what does thought consist?
Do they mutually depend upon each other to exist?

Do the verbose endure emotions the ineloquent can’t reach?
Are all our feelings raw, or do refined ones find a niche?
Is passion not as poignant when less poetically felt?
Does wot’s xprest in ur last txt mean less than wot u spelt?

Lo, archaic phrasings, doth your ancientness imbue
Our lines of love with longing which without would not be true?
And does the metre matter to the meaning of the art?
Is the beat set to repeat the pitter-patter of the heart?

Is there a rhyme or reason for the rhythms we have wrung?
Have you heard a music hidden in the rollings of the tongue?
Would syllables sing so sweetly if not for personification?
Do our hollow hearts hurt harder when we hear alliteration?

Meta-language, meta-physics, met a girl that I adore
She is calming like the ocean, what on earth’s this meta for?
She is cooling, she is gentle; yet, beware her mighty roar
I could see her sea consume me, how her waves enslave my shore

Words, my friends, you leave me, when I could never need you more
Are my fallacies pathetic, is my assonance unsure?
Are words just shields for cowards, just for books left on the shelf?
Is it rhetorically I’m asking? Do I even know myself?

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3 Responses to “Words”

  1. windsweptandrainsodden Says:

    I really enjoyed this. Anything that I couldn’t do myself impresses me. However, I disagree with both you and your hero, Leonard Cohen.

    Firstly, I think that keeping to a structure doesn’t ‘force you through the whole gamut of thought and language to discover exactly what you want to say’ as Cohen claimed. Instead it reduces the number possibilities of where a poem can go, otherwise the possibilites are endless and deciding where the poem should go next becomes infinitely difficult.

    Secondly, I agree with a French poet whose name I’ve now forgotten. He was asked by a politician and amateur poet why, whenever he had a great thought, he found it impossible to turn into a poem. The poet replied, “That’s because poems are made out of words, not thoughts”. I’m sure T.S. Eliot would have agreed with this sentiment. His best poems are made up of fractured, unconnected images. I don’t believe that Eliot starts out with the intention of giving poetic utterance to a thought. What he has are images and words that echo through your mind. there is no overarching thought behind them.

    If they are anything, poems must enchant by there rhythm and rhyme and imagery. But if your intention is to simply express a thought, use prose. However, since I have never written a poem in my life I am willing to admit that I might be wrong about all this!

    • thedropofahat Says:

      I agree with your idea about prose. If it’s a thought or an idea you want to express, use prose. It was a certain type of poetic trend that I have little time for, where the images are slapdash and deliberately obscure. For every Wasteland that works, and has its own special kind of metre, there are a thousand bad imitations, and that poem is nearly a hundred years old. Or I dislike the trend where the appearance of the poem i.e. how it looks on a page, supersede how it sounds when read.

      By the way, feel free to disagree with me on anything any time, but never, ever, ever disparage the name of Leonard Cohen again.

      • windsweptandrainsodden Says:

        Ha ha. At least I liked his hat. Some people look good in hats. He does.

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