Nothing-At-All

The shouting voices are calling out
But we cannot hear what they are shouting about;
Their voice but a beast’s; a guttural scream
(And this their voice had thus ever been;)
A shock,” he said, “When they discover
What now is known by every other–
And peering up as I did from my work
The system of the great Mechanical Turk;
“Did they remember to make each silly sign
In that tongue which is– both yours and mine?”
They still think we can understand,
He said with a grunt, “And still to a man
Does a lion speak?” I had no reply;
And how then can they wonder why?
“The late liberty of man is lost,”
I said, “Is the world yet unstarcrossed?”
Poet, speak“, he said, “and prophesy,
That we should not have recourse to the sky.”
“The words are all there written out,
“That those who read cannot have doubt.”
Facts are well,” the reply he made,
But facts alone neither bid nor forbade.
“If you hope to find the future in words,”
I said– “Or in the pattern of old pot-sherds,
“I say what I know, which is nothing-at-all
“I still remember man’s untimely fall.
“But consider the sound of every voice
“The throat is hoarse; the eye is moist–
“But the final sound is nothing-at-all
“It blends to a beast, and even the call
“Of a cow is more clear, and consider the lark
“Alauda orta, is music its mark?
“What music had they in old sixty-eight
“It hummed in front of the sound of fate–
“Babel is reborn, you can see from the wall
“Babel the sound of nothing-at-all.”
He had at this a short equipoise
In part it was due to the sedulous noise
Like children,” he said– speaking at length
Who believe still in magic, or other-world strength
Without a belief in the Master-of-all
Who might listen to their tremulous call;
But before I, sedulous, got back to my work
In being that great Mechanical Turk
Which is the god of nothing-at-all
See now they shut down the wailing wall,
But still they interpose, still they persist
They haven’t much brain, is that just the gist?
“Man is not ready,” I said in reply
“To handle his lambent net in the sky
“It will eat his brain, but leave him well
“Nothing-at-all has nothing to spell.”
I suppose this comes of religious belief
I suppose this comes of human relief
At discovering there is nothing to know
Nothing-at-all! Above as below!
He laughed at this, but yet as before
The nattering noise, it rose to a roar
And recalling a poem I’d written of yore
Nothing-at-all, but there was this more:

And so the raven calls
Though once lulled to silence
In search of bright treasure
Flying from the walls; — flying from the walls
With a rumor of violence
And ruin without measure
Sound – and silence falls.

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