Echoes Before Silence

Echo River

“Soon we had fashioned a rude boat,

and with lanterns affixed to the prow were ferrying tours across the smoky waters:

Styx, Lethe, Echo River, the host 

of wonders I had found. By slapping

the water with the flat of my paddle,

there comes a sound like the ringing of bells,

a mournful, hollow melody—waves lap-

ping and beating under the low stone arches.

The voice, too, will reproduce in myriad;

often I have led a tour in song, shouts raised

or pistols fired on the dark, deep water.

Children of a clanging, squeaking world,

we cannot bear the silence.”

from Ultima Thule by Davis McCombs

I read this poem before starting work this morning and can’t stop thinking of it in light of today’s technology. Wondering if the voices reverberating throughout the Web are in some ways hollow and mournful, our last song and its echo before we perish.


5 thoughts on “Echoes Before Silence

  1. postmoderndonkey says:

    our last song and its echo before we perish– There is the crux of all our anxieties. Do we perish? Much blood spilled over that one through the centuries. Does communication actually sing out and echo or is it so inexact as to be babble and the illusion of understanding? Is our writing “junk on a beach blanket” waiting for the next tide to do its thing? Is Don’t Panic the best advice? Good stuff you are doing here.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann says:

      Yes, I believe that the British admonishment to “Keep calm and carry on” is the wisest course of action for those of us shuffling about this mortal coil, this mobius strip of anxiety. The alternative is unbearable.

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