There are languages men speak,
of these a few are English, French, and Greek,
And there are the languages of books,
Which evade a casual look.
Each collection of words and pages,
Has its own lexicon —
And throughout the literal ages,
Each work has had a one.
Which page is this? In dialect
Never seen before, I interject,
And how to find the numbers?
This book isn’t like the plumber’s.
These are but a few of the words
of a single kind of language
and the trees, and mycelium, and birds,
have vocabularies never put to page
I studied one school of thought for years,
plumbed deep its intonations,
and to confirm my greatest fears,
It led to multiplications:
To pin the meaning of a single word
requires shelves of books; absurd:
to define that original word
requires unwritten thousands.
Beware an expert of any sort
who claims that he is one,
a man who thinks he knows a single word
has not quite yet been undone,
and it is clear from his vain claims,
that he has engaged no inquiry
but in greatest mercy without pain
has skipped across meaning’s sea