“Nothingness”

This is quite the mind-pressing, deep, and question-worthy poem I am sharing with you all today. This was sent to me by a colleague today, and I was immediately struck with the desire and need to share it.

“Nothingness”

by Aharon Amir

I woke up at night and my language was gone

No sign of language no writing no alphabet

nor symbol nor word in any tongue
and raw was my fear-like the terror perhaps

of a man flung from a treetop far above the ground

a shipwrecked person on a tide-engulfed sandbank

a pilot whose parachute would not open

or the fear of a stone in a bottomless pit

and the fright was unvoiced unlettered unuttered

and inarticulate O how inarticulate

and I was alone in the dark

a non-I in the all-pervading gloom

with no grasp no leaning point

everything stripped of everything
and the sound was speechless and voiceless

and I was naught and nothing

without even a gibbet to hang onto

without a single peg to hang onto

and I no longer knew who or what I was

and I was no more

–translated from the Hebrew by Abraham Birman

What do you think? Powerful isn’t it. I had never thought of how terrifying a world without language and expression through words would be, and I’ll admit that I became a bit anxious as I read this poem the first time. I believe this is a poem I will share with my students in the future. I have always stressed to them the importance of language and communication, but I don’t know if I could ever express it better than Mr. Amir.

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