Peter Boyle

(1951 - / Melbourne / Australia)

The Apocrypha Of William O'shaunessy: Book Iii, Iv - Poem by Peter Boyle

In Africa not far south of Kitezh, only a few days journey from Ebtesum, in several rich and spacious valleys can be found the most beautiful language on earth. The sounds of this language so enchant all who hear them, the rapture is so exquisite, that every year a select band of visitors come from Ebtesum to hear this language. No one can translate what is said and words do not appear to have meaning in any normal sense of the word. It is not possible to order fruit, tidy kitchens or transact business in this language though food appears just the same and houses are built and water is directed craftily through channels and pipes to create coolness and abundance. The men and women of this land are reputed to be the most passionate lovers on earth and loneliness is a concept inexplicable here. The scholars of Ebtesum when I asked for their account of this language said, “The meaning lies elsewhere.” And others said, “Think of the human voice as the central music to this planet – the music from which all other musics derive. Think of its curvature as landscape, its clear rippling, its dark forests and sunlit peaks, its harsh pounding and delicate escape. Go deeper into why the human voice was made so beautiful. Go deeper into why it can never be owned by rich or poor, never restricted or confined. We admire beauty of the body. The human voice is the beauty gathered by the breath, the sovereign of the body. Many are struck to silence by the beauty of bird song – far deeper is the beauty of authentic human speech. What sullies it is containment. What blights it is ownership and division. Most people accept that a sound is not, by itself, a meaning, but many believe that a word, a sentence, a phrase is a meaning. In that speech, in that valley, only a life is a meaning.”


(from Herodotus, The Uncut Histories, Book XIII held in the Gades library)


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, May 2, 2012



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