If we lived in a world where bells
truly say 'ding-dong' and where 'moo'
is a rather neat thing
said by a cow,
I could believe you could believe
that these sounds I make in the air
and these shapes with which I blacken white paper
have some reference
to the thoughts in my mind
and the the feelings in the thoughts.
As things are
if I were to gaze in your eyes and say
'bow-wow' or 'quack' you must take that to be
a dispairing anthology of praises'
a concentration of the opposites
of reticence, a capsule
of my meaning of meaning
that I can no more write down
than I could spell the sound of the sigh
I would then utter, before
dingdonging and mooing my way
through all the lexicons and languages
By Norman MacCaig, October 1964.