I once read a book about the Renaissance which contained a chapter about how the day-to-day world of that era sounded. The author included the chapter in order to provide an evocative sense of how vast the difference is between that time and our time. Think of it. No planes passing overhead. No cars. Nobody talking on cell phones. The most common recurring sound? Church bells over the rooftops and the fields.
Mind you, I have no immediate plans to repair to a yurt on the Mongolian steppe. Yes, I am a hypocrite. I am a consumer and a purveyor of noise. But I prefer silence.
Richard Eurich, "Landscape with Chestnut Trees" (1968)
It was a time when wise men
Were not silent, but stifled
By vast noise. They took refuge
In books that were not read.
Two counsellors had the ear
Of the public. One cried 'Buy'
Day and night, and the other,
More plausibly, 'Sell your repose.'
R. S. Thomas, H'm (1972).
Richard Eurich, "Snow over Skyreholme" (1937)
There is silence that saith, 'Ah me!'
There is silence that nothing saith;
One the silence of life forlorn,
One the silence of death;
One is, and the other shall be.
One we know and have known for long,
One we know not, but we shall know,
All we who have ever been born;
Even so, be it so, --
There is silence, despite a song.
Sowing day is a silent day,
Resting night is a silent night;
But whoso reaps the ripened corn
Shall shout in his delight,
While silences vanish away.
Christina Rossetti, A Pageant and Other Poems (1881).
Richard Eurich, "From Haworth, Yorkshire" (1965)
A chestnut leaf sinks
Through the clear water.
Shohaku (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume 3: Summer-Autumn (Hokuseido Press 1952), page 231.
This haiku provides a fine example of how lovely a haiku can sound in Japanese. Here is the Romanized Japanese original:
kuri no ha shizumu
Shizukasa means "quietness" or "silence." Wa is a particle that makes "quietness" the subject of the sentence (sort of). Kuri is "chestnut." Ha is "leaf." No is a particle which makes the phrase kuri no ha mean "chestnut leaf." Shizumu is a verb meaning "to sink." Shimizu means "clear water." Kana is difficult to translate. It usually means "I wonder" when used in everyday conversation. However, when it is used at the end of a haiku, it expresses a sense of reflection combined with wonderment (or so it seems to this amateur): perhaps something along the lines of "Ahhh . . ."
All of this leads to the following wonderful sequence: shizukasa . . . shizumu . . . shimizu. This is the sort of thing that gets "lost in translation."
Richard Eurich, "The Road to Grassington" (1971)