An Aural Landscape

Somewhere a bird sings –
It’s pipping trill rippling through
the warm summer afternoon.

Further back a wave crashes on the beach
in a quick release of its crescendo.
Around me the wind buffets
against canvas shade cloths, in colours of
sun, sky and moon, strung between
wooden posts that frame this secluded verandah.

The vast, unceasing arriving
and departing of water on land.
The unseen hand of air
that comes and goes with a will of its own.
The intermittent chatter of birds that are
reduced to mere music by my untrained ear.

All sounds to unwind and expand into –
While Fairy Wrens hop boldly,
here and there around my feet.


When was the last time you sat and listened to the sounds around you? How much diversity of sound from the more-than-human world can you hear? The Listening for Silence practice by Emergence Magazine, is a good little exercise to notice what is present and absent from our everyday lives, particularly for those of us living in urban areas.

Sound ecologist Gordon Hempton has been mapping silence, or rather the absence of modern noise pollution, for many years. He sees silence as the “presence of everything” and a way to reconnect with the land. What do we do when increasingly the hum of modernity is silencing the voices of the more-than-human world, in most cases without us even noticing?

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