In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.”

Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been thinking about silence in it’s various forms.

When I wrote the lyrics to Peter Dasent’s beautiful tune, “Prayer”, he said; “it’s about the silence”, and I said; “ok”. Dad had recently and suddenly passed away and I understood.

So, silence. Where have you taken me?

To a stillness that is incomparable to anything else. Where there is no logic and no thoughts. A silence born of grief and the loss of a beloved. A silence so still it’s almost like the clearest space you have ever had simply because nothing is there and nothing moves except hurt and dust.

There are many colours of silence in relation to death and grief.

Like a reverse tinnitus, nothing is sounding in silence. The collision between the heart and emotion and the brain and intellect is thoroughly cataclysmic. Those two spaces butt heads over and over until you’re still and dumb.

Then there’s the silence of the dead. Lying gone and cold, yet looking so completely physical. No breath, no nuance, no character, no speech, no heartbeat, where have you gone?… type silence. Death’s stillness is not the same as grief’s stillness but yet so connected. There is nothing as silent as death. All conversation, at least audible, concludes. Speak to me, breathe, even smile because then I’ll hear you with my eyes. There is nothing. Silence.

When the living are silent any number of chain reactions can occur. The action of one person can inspire another to silence. The silence of one person can infuse another to madness. One’s own silence can be a refuge from the wilderness. One’s own silence can be a steel, sharp weapon that destroys all logic and sanity of another. An armour or an armoury. Being caught, suspended in some invisible vortex, held high above the ground. Silence. I suppose its another dimensional collision but the madness and pain are different because the living can breathe, flicker, speak, write, but have chosen not to.

When I am being attacked, I fall silent, trapped, caught, unable to think or speak. The silence in turn, infuriates the other and inspires even louder, greater attacks as if to explode the me, shatter me to an utterance. Struck dumb, in a different way.

When the other is silent I am shattered with confusion, my mind, a petrie dish of fungal potential of intellectual and creative excess. The colour of madness, reacting and imagining. Filling the void, the space, the silence. Creating a toxic backwash in which to drown.

The weapon of silence is powerful.


When you are silent,

I am wrong.

I am ugly.

I am loud.

The more I trip up, falling and drowning, the louder I get. I try and run from the hurt that this silence has woven in irregular patterns. The overlocker on repeat across my forehead.

Silence isn’t always still or meditative but when we make love we arrive at both. Resting in stillness and silence. In peace.

That other silence,the one containing peace, the one we find through various means, sex, nature, meditation, chanting, singing, swimming, dancing in circles, prayer, is the quiet we arrive at. As silent as death but with blood in our veins and the warmth of our skin. A perfection, a happiness, a content state of balance and love. A silence we seek, or practice but mostly arrive at and if we’re lucky to accept it’s space then we accept our own place in it.

I think we’re drawn to things, places people who gently help us arrive at this place where there is no collision.  We suffer terrible accidents on the way nonetheless. Perhaps its all in an effort to make our final silence a little more peaceful but not for those that grieve, their’s is a different silence. Infinite circle.

Of course I am not deaf. This landscape of silence is for another to discuss.

Prayer: Peter Dasent and Tanya Sparke


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