Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Lesson in Hermeneutics

"In Kenya, vervet monkeys take the ground
Until a sentry gives a chattering bark,
Which in the simple vervet lexicon
Means snake, and connotes evil, death, and dark.
Or else the sentry makes a gutteral sound
That translates in our own more complex tongue
To hawk or eagle circling for prey,
And sends the mokeys scampering. Either way,
The monkeys must take action - jump or flee
Across the ground or to a sheltering tree.
Should one, instead, hearing a sentry speak,
Decide to deconstruct the fellow's meaning
And prove all urgent chattering oblique,
A python's fang or hawk's cruel curving beak
Will punctuate the monkey's idle preening,
Ending his dissertation in mid-squeak." --Paul Lake

Grace & Peace