MUCH A DO ABOUT NOTHING

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Antigonish ( I met a man who wasn`t there)

Yesterday, upon the stair,

I met a man who wasn`t there

He wasn`t there again today

I wish, I wish, he`d go away……….

                    When I came home last night at three

                    The man was waiting there for me

                    But when I looked around the hall

                    I couldn`t see him there at all!

                    Go away, go away, don`t you come back any more!

                    Go away, go away, and please don`t slam the door….(slam!)

Last night I saw upon the stair

A little man who wasn`t there

He wasn`t there again today

Oh, how I wish he`d go away……

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This is a poem about the limits of language: how do we talk about nothing, and what is not? Oscar Wilde once remarked that “I love talking about nothing; it`s the only thing I know anything about.” Language is structured to enable us to describe and make sense of the ephemeral world by treating non-things as things. Emotions, sensations, colours, experiences, the passage of time, et cetera, all have to be treated and described as objects, as if to place them as a solid in space. 

Hughes Mearns is in the same boat as the rest of us: until we learn to communicate by emotion and sensation without the descriptive order of words, we have to make do with language to do our talking and create meaning for us. In the meantime, Antigonish is a fun way of describing absolutely nothing at all.

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