Like the foghorn that's all lung, the wind chime that's all percussion, like the wind itself, that's merely air in a terrible fret, without so much as a finger to articulate what ails it, the aeolian syrinx, that reed in the throat of a bird, when it comes to the shaping of what we call consonants, is too imprecise for consensus about what it even seems to be saying: is it o-ka-lee or con-ka-ree, is it really jug jug, is it cuckoo for that matter?-- much less whether a bird's call means anything in particular, or at all. Syntax comes last, there can be no doubt of it: came last, can be thought of (is thought of by some) as a higher form of expression: is, in extremity, first to be jettisoned: as the diva onstage, all soaring pectoral breathwork, takes off, pure vowel breaking free of the dry, the merely fricative husk of the particular, rises past saying anything, any more than the wind in the trees, waves breaking, or Homer's gibbering Thespesiae iache: those last-chance vestiges above the threshold, the all- but dispossessed of breath.
From The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 1997. Used with permission from the Estate of Amy Clampitt.
Amy Clampitt was born on June 15, 1920, and brought up in
Date Published: 1997-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/syrinx