7 monologues for the SONGBIRD ORATORIO    
BY NELSON GRAY

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I trusted too much in human language. What a ridiculous oversight! Oh yes, we now know that dolphins, by putting balls in hoops, can demonstrate the limited syntax of our communications . . . but is there one human yet who has even begun to fathom the most rudimentary elements of dolphin language?

You see my mistake? For years I’ve been attempting to translate the songs of birds into human language when what I should have been doing is converting our human speech into the expansive language of birds.

In the language of birds there are no subjects or objects, no distance between the singer and the song. You can’t fix the meanings of their calls, as if they were little machines: putting a stranglehold on the sounds and squeezing out every drop of logic; trying to control the outcome of the experiment just to prove the hypothesis; reading things into the songs; hearing what you want to hear; creating connections that were never there . . .

No. Forget useful—forget want. Understanding the language of birds demands an irrational discipline, demands listening without the tyranny of meaning, without the rigid toy soldiers of reason firing their puny cannons of syntax:
Subject. Object. Predicate. Fire.
Punctuate. Modify. Fire.
Noun. Verb. Fire. Fire.
Fire. Fire. Fire. Fire. . .
Until it’s all finished. All complete.
Until the story’s ended, and the book is closed,
And not another sound is uttered--
Not a cry
Not a song . . .