Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Wednesday, 24 February 2016


‘There are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words.” 
 Haruki Murakami

As one who was
from an early age encouraged to read, I have enjoyed a lifelong love affair with the English language, whilst displaying no great aptitude for learning Italian, French or even Gaelic.
The absence of comprehension of a language other than English, however, has not impacted on my passion for music and my record collection is eclectic.
I listen, enraptured, to Italian, French or German opera, Portuguese fado, Swedish visor, South American nueva-cancion and assorted Eastern European folk music, allowing the emotion that the strange voices convey to affect me viscerally, without need for translation.
What does this say about words? 

Only that they are important and not important, depending on the context.

Mont Saint-Michel, Bretagne, France.

It's always a great pleasure to discover unfamiliar music or a new voice, and two singers I uncovered recently are long-established but new to me.
Denez Prigent is a Breton singer/songwriter who performs in his native tongue, the language of Bretagne: a minor, thus threatened language.
His duet with Australian singer Lisa Gerrard, on one of his songs, Gortoz A Ran, has an hypnotic quality that had me spellbound on first hearing.
Interestingly Gerrard’s contribution to this duet is in a variant of glossolalia, a spontaneous language akin to Pentecostal tongues.
Despite my ignorance of Breton and the impossibility of understanding Lisa Gerrard’s contribution, this song takes me to a charmed place where comprehensible words are not important.
You can listen to Gortoz A Ran by clicking here.

During the wartime occupation of the Channel Islands, many locals communicated in Guernsey-French to avoid being understood by German soldiers and often to plot some form of resistance

Thus, language can be a weapon of sorts.  
That thought inspired this poem, constructed in the form of a double tetractys.

German soldiers marching in St Peter Port


remain deaf
to our language.
We exclude you with our strange words, keep you
away from our true essence. You invade
but you cannot
conquer us.
We stay

1 comment:

  1. Another great poem Richard, it's interesting how minor languages have so often played important roles during times of war.