A free verse, narrative poem about the singing done by humpback whales.
|Of all the whales in all the seas,
the humpback is the most vocal,
possessing the most imaginative,
complex, and varied repertoire.
Only the male whales sing.
Scientists have conducted their studies.
They claim in cold waters the whales
emit rough squeaks, groans, and
grunts to locate masses of krill.
In warm waters they sing long
songs, supposedly to attract a mate.
Since sound travels four times faster
in water than in air, vocal communication
is ideal between whales.
This the scientists understand.
This they know with confidence.
Listening to the song of the humpback--
with its beautiful, but eerily haunting,
mystical, lyrical sounds-- the poet in me
wonders if this is not a song of lament,
a song meant to touch the soul of their
fellow mammals, humans on land and ships,
imploring mercy on all whales’ behalf.
Humpbacks are endangered, as were
many of their whale cousins before them,
slaughtered by Man to the edge of extinction.
Maybe humpbacks have been chosen among
all the whales to sing in tribute to their fallen
fellow whales, murdered by the thousands,
the hundreds of thousands for centuries
at the bloodied hands of Man. What if
their soulful song is a plea for reason,
an entreaty for peace at last?
Shall it continue falling upon deaf ears
until whale songs vanish from this earth?
[Listen to a humpback whale singing: http://www.oceanmammalinst.org/songs/hmpback3.wav /// Hear other songs by humpback whales: http://www.oceanmammalinst.org/songs.html]
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