Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Whalesong and the Language of Elephants

google image

In the depths of the ocean, an otherworldly, 
mystical, lonely sound is heard,
a song older than time, echoing 
mournfully through miles of water
in distinctive patterns, that repeat, 
improvise, and evolve.

Each whale in the sea, it has been learned,
composes her own song,
which is constantly growing and changing,
an example of cultural evolution 
that far exceeds our own.
If only they could find a way to speak.
If only we could find a way to hear.

In the African savanna, or at your neighborhood zoo, 
if you sit in silence, and listen, 
you might feel a throbbing in the air:
the vibration of elephant communication,
a sound below the pitch of the human ear,
their infra sonic calls.

Like humans, these gentle beasts feel community, 
attachment, love, sorrow, grief, passion and play. 
If parted for mere hours, on return
there is a joyous cacophony of welcome:
elephant cries of joy, ear flapping, trunks twining, 
as if the benevolent being has returned 
from years away, though he may have last been seen 
earlier that morning.

Sometimes the entire herd becomes completely still. 
They are listening, 
a trait we humans would do well to emulate.
Being Silent, we open our whole being
to what is here, before and all around us.
Becoming completely present to the moment, 
we can hear trees sighing,
clouds moving, a single stone 
plunking into moving water.
If we listen hard enough, we might hear
the planet humming to us from its inner depths.
Mother Earth is continually speaking to us,
singing to us - singing us her song of love.
Waiting for us to love her back.

source: In the Presence of Elephants and Whales, with Katy Payne, at On Being with Krista Tippett. Katy Payne has spent her life decoding the language of whales and elephants in efforts to better understand the species, and assist in conservation.  Katy speaks of cultural evolution, demonstrated by the evolving songs of whales, and many other fascinating things. This is a wonderful interview, which set me dreaming about two species I love very much. I also am remembering here a news report many years ago, where scientists had heard a hum emanating from the depths of the earth.


  1. so peaceful and if we could really understand them , then, we could understand nature.

  2. I think there is much we can learn from them on several levels. Celebrating the presence of each other, even if only gone a bit, listening, communicating even in the silence. There is much about community that we can learn in that.

  3. You know I love elephants and their societies. Whales, too.

  4. I love the language of Silence that teaches us to be more humane...if we only could listen with our hearts...

  5. I really like your approach, Sherry. Thinking about the silence of animals & what it means makes us consider nature and its deep meaning. And yes, humans could learn from a herd of animals that becomes completely still!! Smiles.

  6. Love this.. the song of whales must be heard as it breaks through the silence and enters our hearts.
    Beautifully penned :D

    Lots of love,

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  8. ok, let's try this again.

    The songs of the whales, I've always wanted to go whale watching..to see one in the water free..I think animals can speak to us we just need to listen to them. I like the image of the elephant ears flapping. I think sometimes humans do too much talking and not enough listening. I think there is an art to listening for in silence we can hear the deeper tones.

  9. Tradition speaks of the 'Taos Hum,' no one has determined its' origin, perhaps Taos is where the earth speaks? I like to think it is true. Thank you Sherry for such a beautiful poem!

  10. so true and the stars sing in a choir of frequency. But we too frequently have the volume cranked having too little time to listen.

  11. "If only we could find a way to hear."


  12. I want to go where it is quiet enough to hear her hum...sigh...

    What a special poem to read after hearing the talk you shared...thank you.

    I love the still moment...yes, we should be taking notes. ♥

  13. I always feel your deep connection to life on this planet --I still hope that we can find a way to hear--we need to

  14. I've read that the Universe make the sound of Om, like the sacred sound of many religions. I read the article. I am both fascinated and heartbroken.

  15. I recently read a book called "Leaving Time" by Jodi Picoult and there was so much in there about elephants and their ability to feel grief and to remember their loved ones. Their language is super fascinating indeed!

  16. Humanity has little time to love the Earth as it rapes and wounds her and does not hear the cries of pain as for them all that they touch is expendable for their life time at least.

  17. Being silent w'll helps us to focus unilaterally, and thus may help us in opening our eyes to those gems of life, which we would have missed otherwise.....Awesomely crafted!

  18. The strength of both sides is well expressed, great write.

  19. Oh, great...This gives us the strongest evidence of Animal Culture, Sherry....Exquisite poem!I Love this!

  20. You got me from the title ~ Love the message and I wish I can hear and see those whales ~ I will check out your link ~ Thanks Sherry ~

  21. The music of nature is beautiful. Unfortunately we are so used to the cacophony of urban lives that we ignore this beauty.

  22. "If only they could find a way to speak. / If only we could find a way to hear." This is so true.
    The languages of animals is a mystery we humans would love to fathom. All the more so when the species is as evolved as the whales and elephants.

  23. Beautiful, Sherry. We only can hear what we are able to, but unlike the sounds beyond our hearing capabilities, we sometimes close our ears to sounds and words that we can hear but do not want to listen to.

  24. we've inverted the ear/mouth ratio: talking at least twice as much as listening ~


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