Monday, October 26, 2009

The words the happy say

The words the happy say
Are paltry melody
But those the silent feel
Are beautiful--
(F 1767)

Again Dickinson demonstrates her ability to invert the reader's expectations and, in doing so, present a stunningly accurate and peculiar paradox of human nature. Many people have the tendency to speak of things that surpass a description. Perhaps they are not comfortable with silence, or perhaps they do not feel the fullness of the moment. No matter the reason, many people are not comfortable with silence-- they do not know how to let it be, that sometimes silence speaks far more than language.

A person witnessing something especially moving might have words that come to his or her mind, and yet when those words are spoken they seem to cheapen the moment. The enchantment of the event or emotions are often broken when the word is said. And yet some can think of the words that come to mind and can feel the words, in their very fullest, experiencing them in a way that surpasses merely mentioning the word. It is the difference between talking about a breath and taking one of those deep breaths that begin at the very bottom of the lungs, feeling the chest fully expand, taking in the wonderousness that is oxygen, the most essential need to continue life.

It is particularly fitting that Dickinson would write a poem about the fullness of silence. For a person who did not socialize much beyond her family and who filled the night hours alone in her room with a pen and paper, she knew silence well. She knew the awe and beauty of it, and she understood it in a way that many cannot grasp.

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