Beyond words

Attempting to describe the human being, the universe, our place in it, and such matters, in a series of poems (“Four Quartets”) written over six years, T S Elliot comes to see words as no more than “a raid on the inarticulate.”

Towards the end of the 1973 Wild West novel “The Ferguson Rifle”, by Louis L’Amour, we listen to the protagonist, Ronan Chantry:

“The sunset was spectacular. The sky streaked itself with rose and the region of the sun became an indescribable glory. All my life I have used words, and yet I find times when they are totally inadequate.”

The last line of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s 1921 “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, confronts the limits of language:

“Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.”

The translation by Frank P. Ramsey and Charles Kay Ogden: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

The poet Mary Oliver, in “Praying” (“Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver”), sings of words giving way to

” a silence in which another voice may speak.”

Peace 😊

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