The silken sound

National Poetry Month, Day 3  //  Seeking connections that hold – the image from yesterday’s poem by Whitman, “A Noiseless Patient Spider” – isn’t first of all about “seeking the spheres to connect them.” Before that, it’s about rediscovering silence and nurturing it so that, with what Benedict called the ear of my heart, I might listen to the spheres that are trying to connect me. Today’s poet, William Alexander Percy, writes, “Too much is said too loudly.” Shrill voices deafen us to an “undermeaning” of life that would make us whole. I’m guilty of having contributed my own shrill voice to the din. Now my contribution is increasingly one of silence. Maybe I can invite others into that silence so we might together hear the music of the spheres and be drawn home.

“Home,” by William Alexander Percy

I have a need of silence and of stars;
Too much is said too loudly; I am dazed.
The silken sound of whirled infinity
Is lost in voices shouting to be heard.
I once knew men as earnest and less shrill.
An undermeaning that I caught I miss
Among these ears that hear all sounds save silence,
These eyes that see so much but not the sky,
These minds that gain all knowledge but no calm.
If suddenly the desperate music ceased,
Could they return to life? or would they stand
In dancers’ attitudes, puzzled, polite,
And striking vaguely hand on tired hand
For an encore, to fill the ghastly pause?
I do not know. Some rhythm there may be
I cannot hear. But I oh, I must go
Back where the breakers of deep sunlight roll
Across flat fields that love and touch the sky;
Back to the more of earth, the less of man,
Where there is still a plain simplicity,
And friendship, poor in everything but love,
And faith, unwise, unquestioned, but a star,
Soon now the peace of summer will be there
With cloudy fire of myrtles in full bloom;
And, when the marvelous wide evenings come,
Across the molten river one can see
The misty willow-green of Arcady.
And then the summer stars . . . I will go home.

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