Jack Gilbert

(1925 - / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart


How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: dream, joy, people, lost, home, wind, dark, heart, light, god, horse, poem, smile

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart by Jack Gilbert )

Enter the verification code :

  • Gwendolen Salvail (10/12/2009 10:27:00 PM)

    Absolutly beautiful... He makes it sound like language and words are a kind of magic we haven't fully grasped yet. I love it. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. Graveyard, Dr PJ Raj Kamal
  2. Symphony of Discords By K.V.Suryanarayan.., Bijay Kant Dubey
  3. Our Roads, Somanathan Iyer
  4. It's Not Just Rain, Daniel Skentelbery
  5. The Day After I Shouted Abuse at the Queen, Daniel Skentelbery
  6. Name-Calling, Diane Hine
  7. A pan fried fish…?, Mark Heathcote
  8. The Persecuted, Sandra Feldman
  9. wedding day, ademola oluwabusayo
  10. Dream the moon, Somanathan Iyer

Poem of the Day

poet Christina Georgina Rossetti

Where sunless rivers weep
Their waves into the deep,
She sleeps a charmed sleep:
Awake her not.
Led by a single star,
She came from very far
...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

[Hata Bildir]