We have still to learn

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An Altogether Different Language

There was a church in Umbria, Little Portion,
Already old eight hundred years ago.
It was abandoned and in disrepair
But it was called St Mary of the Angels
For it was known to be the haunt of angels,
Often at night the country people
Could hear them singing there.

What was it like, to listen to the angels,
To hear those mountain-fresh, those simple voices
Poured out on the bare stones of Little Portion
In hymns of joy?
No one has told us.
Perhaps it needs another language
That we have still to learn,
An altogether different language.

Anne Porter
Living Things – Collected Poems

Among the joys of being alive for me is the sense I have, at the core of my being, that we humans do indeed need an altogether different language – and that we will discover, are discovering, and will be given it.

And when I’m occasionally thought barmy for being in possession of such a faith, I point – have pointed for forty years or more – to poetry, which is moving, always, in that direction, sometimes quicker than at first we can keep up with it.

(Always before us and / leaving as we arrive – as R S Thomas has it.)


What do you wish might properly be said were there an altogether different language with which to say it, or hear it? In asking the question, in altogether different searching silence, we may hear and see such a language being brought to birth within and around us.

That’s why we’re here. Co-creating. Poetry – life that cannot always be told, but that can hint and inspire, handed down through generations, eight hundred years and more. And that’s vivacity. And I don’t mind being thought barmy!

2 thoughts on “We have still to learn

    1. Yes. That kind of language! Shalom-language we might say. Something that’s animated and attractive, though it might be non-prescriptive – silent-music, even, or at least having big open processing-spaces between notes or words.

      A language that facilitates creative hearing / ‘understanding’ – keeping us in touch with ‘Source’ but dynamically, less dogmatically, in as many different ways as there are people, species, galaxies, planets …

      ‘What was it like?’, the poem asks. ‘No one has told us.’ But we’ve heard something – and are at this moment responding … xx


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