Some stanzas from a series I’m working on about the Tower of Babel and Solomon. From a section on the motif of the Division of Language in the Tower of Babel story.

The idea of language coming apart is a fascinating one no matter how you look at it: mythological, psychological, social, mental.

I have been trying to think through this idea that there is something that a word means and when it stops meaning it the word still exists and still acts as a label for that something which it’s not anymore. Sometimes new words are made for the occasion, but sometimes not. Sometimes words are borrowed to understand what they were never intended to. This is the problem of the sign and its referent, whatever that means.

Words are planted, and grow, and do not stop growing. When I mean words here I also mean phrases, ideas, thoughts, ways of thinking.

The problem of language
is the problem with
the engine stalling out
or the microscope
that cannot see
all the way down.

When there’s no other way
of saying something
we must say it
the way it sounds
though it may not be
how we meant it.

We’re locked tidally
to the manner of the
language that’s spoken,
just as we cannot know
beyond our science
without some hoping.

So build it up and out.
Fine tune instruments.
Build them large without
and more precise within,
so we can mean only what 
we mean, and no more then.

Tomorrow we cure
through technology
death and disease
and reverse entropy
by taking measurements
absolutely accurately.

Today we say something
knowing full well it is
not what we mean,
to know it ourselves,
so it may come to look
like what it seems.

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