I began playing with words in early childhood and was intrigued by what I was noticing. For instance, I saw that ––
- OPPOSITE begins with opposites: OP-PO-sites
- PARALLEL has three parallel lines
- LEVEL is a level word –– or palindrome –– for it remains unchanged frontward and The V at its center is the fulcrum on which this level word finds balance
- EVENING is the time of day for finding balance –– by EVEN-ing out our ‘nervous’ system
In my late teens, when my older brother introduced me to marijuana, the thoughts that would often occur to me in that altered state related to the A, B, C’s. I thought I must have a very primitive mentality to be focusing on something as seemingly simplistic as the Alphabet. But these types of thoughts persisted over the years until –– bit-by-bit, letter-by-word –– a larger picture began to emerge as I followed these verbal breadcrumbs into a vision of the English language that altered my perception of reality.
Then, on one occasion, when I performed WordMagic in a beautiful garden, a member of the audience said to me afterwards, ‘In France, we call what you do, ‘The Language of the Birds.’ I really didn’t know what she meant by that –– though I’d read a faerie tale by that name years before. And on that occasion –– and another some time later –– there was an extraordinary degree of avian interest when I performed WordMagic outdoors.
Not long after, I received a copy of The Language of the Birds by William Henry from friends of his. In it I learned that my most fanciful vision-in-verse about what might come about when we collectively, creatively tune up English to a higher frequency –– was not simply a matter of my personal fantasy. It’s actually part of ancient mythology.
I also learned in Mr. Henry’s book that English is identified as the Language of the Birds. In response to the immediate question that naturally arises, he writes ––
“How did English come to be the Language of the Birds? The answer is, the language in which these words have meaning to the mythologist is not exactly English either. In the poetic Language of the Birds (or Bards), English becomes Ang(l)ish or Angel-ish, the Language of the Angels.”
Of even greater significant to me was that the way I acquired my mystic-linguistic perspective on English is something William Henry also addresses:
“Believe me, this is not the kind of knowledge one gets at a university. It’s more like what a billionaire buys $30 million for in a codex (Latin for book or bound manuscript) or a rare painting at a secret auction at Christie’s. Or a spiritual seeker acquires by floating round and visiting the places on Earth where such knowledge is stored and downloading it out of the landscape directly to the brain (if one knows how to do that). It is likely that this is the kind of knowledge which Solomon and the Knights Templar busied themselves with.”
This is precisely what happened: I downloaded WordMagic from the landscape –– though I didn’t know this was what I was doing. However, thanks to the mind-expanding impact of an occasional toke or two of a mild marijuana bud while wandering in Nature –– WordMagic gradually came more fully into form through me.
I didn’t download my verse verbatim. It’s just that interesting words, metaphors and insights frequently ‘occurred’ to me as I traversed the wild terrain. And I wove these into my consciousness and poetry.
Thus far, I’ve published only one small anthology of verse: WordMagic: WordPlay That Puts a New Spin on the Whirled. There are volumes more to come. So, what a pleasure to discover that the original meaning of anthology is flower-gathering. In my childhood, I enjoyed reading A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. And now I have a whole garden of my own to share with you over time.
I delight in the fact that flowers are flow-ers, which ‘toil not.’ And when we are in flow, all we need to know comes to-us-and-through-us effortlessly. So, given how my poetry actually blossomed in Nature, I was heartened one day to encounter this beautiful tribute to the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, Sir James A.H. Murray:
“Oh, somewhere on Elysian plains
where the light breath of Zephyr stirs
the bosky groves and sylvan lanes
reserved for Lexicographers;
where with your kind in that long spell
of peace which no intruder varies
you couch on beds of asphodel
gently discussing dictionaries . . .:”
Sir Owen Seaman
In 2012, as we approached that long foretold and greatly anticipated date, I wrote my own piece on The Language of the Birds. It offers a good summary of the perspective that ‘occurred’ to me and unfolded in my awareness over time –– often inspired by walking ‘somewhere on Elysian planes’ –– in a park that is aptly named Charmlee.
Hope you enjoy it.