The Country Where Nobody Sings
The songbirds began here.
The first people sang.
The new people too —
Then, bit by bit, we shut up.
Because all our songs were sung for us;
because we’d grown careful round meanings —
tongue-music dried into syntax.
For the kids, for results, for immunities:
Prose settled over our lives like a cloud of unbeing.
We would make ourselves still for the fine print,
Once there’d been tyrants in mills who’d admonished all singing.
We do not need them: we govern ourselves.
Now we always think before we speak.
Now that we care for our stories like courtroom exhibits.
Now we can find every reason — but reason to sing.
Eric and Annersley
Eric and Annersley never got on well —
The Bach Chorale
They are practising a Bach chorale at Hermannsburg.
Unresolved triads float out past the she-oaks:
It has sailed round the world as a magical hachure.
And now, it is out of the box.
Where will it go to tomorrow?
It pleases them, trying to please the good pastor.
They lean into cool, desert air, and they whole-body-listen —
Martin Langford is the author of The Human Project: New and Selected Poems (Puncher and Wattmann, 2009) and the editor of Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse 1788--2008 (Puncher and Wattmann, 2009). His new collection, Ground, will be published later in 2014.
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