Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



A Writer’s Notebook II


Therefore he no more troubled the pool of silence
But put on mask and cloak,
Strung a guitar
And moved among the folk.
Dancing they cried,
‘Ah, how our sober islands
Are gay again, since this blind lyrical tramp
Invaded the Fair!’

Under the last dead lamp
When all the dancers and masks had gone inside
His cold stare
Returned to its true task, interrogation of silence.

Sometimes an entire poem, like this one, The Poet by George Mackay Brown, will find its way into the notebook. Silence is my current obsession and the novel I’m intending to write will be, at least partially, about silence.

I have an image of penitents through the ages, people from all races and countries and faiths, stretching their hands to the heavens, praying for solace for themselves and their kind, for an end to war and for peace, understanding or compassion; for an answer to suffering of the earth.

And over and over again, in return to these endless pleadings, there comes only silence.

4 Responses to “A Writer’s Notebook II”

  1. Paul says:

    Silence also fascinates me in my writing.
    It has such power in amplifying the emotions that precede it, emphasising moods, exploiting misunderstanding, enticing protagonists into projecting their own feelings and interpretations, shifting emphasis to the setting, exaggerating menace, and deepening romance.
    Yet silence is so difficult to bring to life and to sustain in writing.

    jb says: I suppose the end of every chapter is a silence; certainly the end of the book. But perhaps we need to work on the endings of our paragraphs, sentences; and what we do when a word is spent?

  2. Paul says:

    john – thanks – something to think about there.

  3. Dick says:

    ‘God…with a white beard…who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly…’ Beckett’s language aspired constantly to silence. And in this case he prefigures your own reflections.

    jb says: Thanks, Dick. Is it from Waiting for Godot?

  4. Dick says:

    Yes. It’s from the otherwise entirely mute Lucky’s speech.