Senlin, alone before us, played a music.
Was it himself he played? . . . We sat and listened,
Perplexed and pleased and tired.
‘Listen!’ he said, ‘and you will learn a secret,
Though it is not the secret you desired.
I have not found a meaning that will praise you!
Out of the heart of silence comes this music,
Quietly speaks and dies.
Look! there is one white star above black houses!
And a tiny man who climbs toward the skies!
Where does he walk to? What does he leave behind him?
What was his foolish name?
What did he stop to say, before he left you
As simply as he came?
“Death?” did it sound like, “love and god, and laughter,
Sunlight, and work, and pain . . .?”
No, it appears to me that these were symbols
Of simple truths he found no way to explain.
He spoke, but found you could not understand him,
You were alone, and he was alone.
“He sought to touch you, and found he could not reach you,
He sought to understand you, and could not hear you.
And so this music, which I play before you,
Does it mean only what it seems to mean?
Or is it a dance of foolish waves in sunlight
Above a desperate depth of things unseen?
Listen! Do you not hear the singing voices
Out of the darkness of this sea?
But no: you cannot hear them; for if you heard them
You would have heard and captured me.
Yet I am here, talking of laughter.
Laughter and love and work and god;
As I shall talk of these same things hereafter
In wave and sod.
Walk on a hill and call me: “Senlin! . . . Senlin! . . .”
Will I not answer you as clearly as now?
Listen to rain, and you will hear me speaking.
Look for my heart in the breaking of a bough . . .’