Jun 17 2011

#48 “Echoes”

From a stranger in Utica, New York.

The act of calling out over a cliff or precipice and hearing our own eery and exciting echo is something that I think we all can identify with. We’ve all done it, whether it we were sitting in an empty bathroom or standing on the edge of the grand canyon. We’ve all called out to hear our voice come back to us, to hear it resonate and permeate our environment.

It is believed that wolves perch themselves upon promontories and howl in order to communicate over great distances. But why do we as people call or shout out from cliff tops when we have the opportunity? Is it a narcissistic act designs to simply allow us to hear our own voice? Or is there something deeper that we are subconsciously trying to achieve?

I’m not really sure what the answer to this question is, but examining the illustration above and considering this concept brings to mind one of my favorite poems by Robert Frost called “The Most of It.” In the poem, a boy calls out from a cliffside, seeking some sort of response from the universe. As the boy cries out, the speaker says that the only response he receives is the sound and image of a great buck that comes splashing through the water below and then climbs upon the bank, pouring water from its coat. The buck then crashes through the undergrowth. At the end of the poem, the reader is left wondering what to make of this scene. Was the appearance of the buck the result of a conscious decision on the part of the universe to let the boy know that he was not alone? Or was this perhaps a random event that could only reinforce the boy’s fears that he is a stranger in this primeval world?

Take a look at the poem and decide for yourself.

“The Most of It” by Robert Frost

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree–hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder–broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter–love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.