They are of very little use, you know,

These words – these images.

And yet we still try

to communicate the ineffable.


Face contorted with effort

we make sounds.

The dumb speaking to the deaf who strain to hear.

The mind’s eye purblind

as we seek to twist the murky mental mist

into a picture,


racked with distortion,

which will somehow approximate

an experience

of what you have in mind.


The gulf is more —

more than semantic.

The words themselves are counterfeit,

debased though newly minted.

And language a token

that can tell you ‘About’

but never tell you true.

For you,

And I,

Seem locked in some subjective cell;

Crying the soundless cry

Yelling the soundless yell,

Swallowed in absorbent silence.


And yet –

And yet there are times

When some poet of genius,

(Not I, Alas)

Rings a chime whose purity of tone

Evokes a sense of something dimly heard.

And, just for a moment,

I think I almost hear,

And some taut mental string

Vibrates in harmony.


H. St.Vincent Beechey

November 1971