life: acoustic & amplified

poetry, quotes & thoughts about life

starlight…have you anything to say to me??

When Laurens van der Post one night

      In the Kalihari Desert told the Bushmen

              He couldn’t hear the stars

Singing, they didn’t believe him. They looked at him,

      Half-smiling. They examined his face

              To see whether he was joking

Or deceiving them. Then two of those small men

      Who plant nothing, who have almost

              Nothing to hunt, who live

On almost nothing, and with no one

      But themselves, led him away

              From the crackling thorn-scrub fire

And stood with him under the night sky

      And listened. One of them whispered,

              Do you not hear them now?

And van der Post listened, not wanting

      To disbelieve, but had to answer,

              No. They walked him slowly

Like a sick man to the small dim

      Circle of firelight and told him

              They were terribly sorry,

And he felt even sorrier

      For himself and blamed his ancestors

              For their strange loss of hearing,

Which was his loss now. On some clear nights

      When nearby houses have turned off their televisions,

              When the traffic dwindles, when through streets

Are between sirens and the jets overhead

      Are between crossings, when the wind

              Is hanging fire in the fir trees,

And the long-eared owl in the neighboring grove

      Between calls is regarding his own darkness,

              I look at the stars again as I first did

To school myself in the names of constellations

      And remember my first sense of their terrible distance,

              I can still hear what I thought

At the edge of silence where the inside jokes

      Of my heartbeat, my arterial traffic,

              The C above high C of my inner ear, myself

Tunelessly humming, but now I know what they are:

      My fair share of the music of the spheres

              And clusters of ripening stars,

Of the songs from the throats of the old gods

      Still tending even tone-deaf creatures

              Through their exiles in the desert.


The Silence of the Stars by David Wagoner 

Listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing Stella by Starlight


photo sources found at 


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