Silence

We walked through the byways of untravelled Tuscany
I'd stop to catch breath or to gaze at the view.
Not a stranger or vehicle in sight on the landscape
Just prolific, sweet blackberries, the sunshine, and you.

The route was unspoiled and was gloriously ancient,
The weather in August was hot, dry and fine,
The beds hard as iron, and the villages quaint,
As we drank in the history, the beauty, the wine.

We would stop with our pencils, erasers and sketchbooks And companionably draw without saying a word. There was silence, pure silence; you felt it wrap 'round you, With sometimes the sound of a far distant bird.

I cannot forget it, that blanket of stillness - -
No pneumatic drilling, no sounds of police,
No cellphone, no car horn, no musak, no chatter.
For a glorious week our world was at peace.

Go back to a simple, more innocent age,
When men lived on the land like their fathers before.
Carriages rumbled and grated on cobbles,
And the carter drove oxen and grumbled and swore.

Water wheels squeaked, mules and donkeys protested,
Street hawkers called out and cockerels crowed.
But allowing for that, from each season to season
In comparative silence men tilled and they sowed.

We now fill our lives with the backing of sound,
And its absence is now a surprise, even threat.
We're used to the ring tone, ubiquitous traffic,
To the decibel bands, to the bass drum, and jet.

To avoid the event of a real conversation,
To suppress the self-knowledge that we are alone,
To give the illusion of meaningful living,
We pump up the noise to a deafening drone.

But there as we sat with our pencils and paper,
Oblivious of matters that daily confound us,
I was deeply content with you quietly beside me,
And the silence, so fleeting, around us.