1 Speech came out of silence, out of the fullness of silence. The fullness of silence would have exploded if it had not been able to flow out into speech. The speech the comes out of silence is as it were justi- fied by the silence that precedes it. It is the spirit that legitimizes speech, but the silence that precedes speech is the pregnant mother who is delivered of speech by the creative activity of the spirit. The sign of this creative activity of the spirit is the silence that precedes speech. Whenever a man begins to speak, the word comes from silence at each new beginning. It comes so self-evidently and so unobtrusively as if it were merely the reverse of silence, merely silence turned around. Speech is in fact the reverse of silence, just as silence is the reverse of speech. There is something silent in every word, as an abiding token of the origin of speech. And in every silence there is something of the spoken word, as an abiding token of the power of silence to create speech. Speech is therefore essentially related to silence. Not until one man speaks to another, does he learn that speech no longer belongs to silence but to man. He learns it through the Thou of the other person, for through the Thou the word first belongs to man and no longer to silence. When two people are conversing with one another, however, a third is always present: Silence is listening. That is what gives breadth to a conversation: when the words are not moving merely within the narrow space occupied by the two speakers, but come from afar, from the place where silence is listening. That gives the words a new fullness. But not only that: the words are spoken as it were from the silence, from that third person, and the listener receives more than the speaker alone is able to give. Silence is the third speaker in such a conver- sation. At the end of the Platonic dialogues it is always as though silence itself were speaking. The persons who were speaking seem to have become listeners to silence. 2 At the beginning of creation, we are told, God Himself spoke with man. It was as though man still did not really dare to speak the word, did not yet dare to possess the word; as though God, by speaking with man, wanted to get man into the habit of using words. When we recall the beauty, the might and the manifold- ness of language, ranging over the whole earth, there seems something almost superhuman in it, something that does not seem to have had its origin in man, some- thing the perfection of which man has in fact corrupted and destroyed. (Jakob Grimm) The origin of language is impenetrable, like that of every creature, because it came from the perfect love of the Creator. Only if man were to live constantly in perfect love, could he learn the origin of language and of all creatures. 3 The clearly defined and wholly immediate word arises from the indefinite, far-ranging prehistoric realm of silence. Silence reveals itself in a thousand inexpressible forms: in the quiet of dawn, in the noiseless aspiration of trees towards the sky, in the stealthy descent of night, in the silent changing of the seasons, in the falling moonlight, trickling down into the night like a rain of silence, but above all in the silence of the inward soul,—all these forms of silence are nameless: all the clearer and surer is the word that arises out of and in contrast to the nameless silence. There is no greater natural world than the natural world of silence; no greaterworld of spirit than the lin- guistic world of spirit formed by the natural world of silence. Silence is a world in itself, and from this world of silence speech learns to form itself into a world: the world of silence and the world of speech confront each other. Speech is therefore opposed to silence, but not as an enemy: it is only the other side, the reverse of silence. One can hear silence sounding through speech. Real speech is in fact nothing but the resonance of silence. 4 The sound of music is not, like the sound of words, opposed, but rather parallel to silence. It is as though the sounds of music were being driven over the surface of silence. Music is silence, which in dreaming begins to sound. Silence is never more audible than when the last sound of music has died away. Music is far-ranging, and could occupy the whole of space. This does not in fact happen, for music occupies space very slowly, shyly, rhythmically, always returning to the same basic melodies so that it might seem that the sounds of music never moved away at all, that music were everywhere and yet always in a definite limited place. In music the distance and the nearness of space, the limitless and the limited are all together in one gentle unity that is a comfort and a benefaction to the soul. For however far the soul may range in music it is everywhere protected and brought home safely again. That is also why music has such a calming effect on nervous people: it brings a wideness to the soul in which the soul can be without fear. 5 Language is a world, not a mere appendage to another world. It has a fullness that goes out beyond the limits of the expedient: there is more in language than would be necessary for mere understanding and information. It is true that language belongs to man, but it also belongs to itself. There is more pain and joy and sadness in it than man can get out of it for himself. It is as though, independently of man, language keeps back enough pain, sadness, joy, and jubilation for itself. Language sometimes creates poetry of its own accord and as it were all for itself. 6 Silence can exist without speech, but speech cannot exist without silence. The word would be without depth if the background of silence were missing. Nevertheless silence is not more than speech; on the contrary, silence on its own, the world of silence without speech, is the world before creation, the world of unfinished creation, a world of menace and danger to man. Not until speech comes out of silence does silence come out of pre-creation into creation, out of the prehistoric into the history of man, into close relationship with man, becoming part of man and a lawful part of speech. But speech is more than silence, because truth is first expressed concretely by speech, not by silence. It is through speech that man first becomes man: Man reveals himself as the being that speaks. (Heidegger) Silence is fulfilled only when speech comes forth from silence. Speech gives it meaning and honor. Through speech silence, that wild, prehuman monster, is trans- formed into something tame and human. The outward face of speech is thus: it is like solid blocks of lava erupted from the surface of silence, lying scattered about and connected one with another by the surface of silence. And as the mass of the sea is greater than the mass of the land, so that of silence is greater than that of speech. But just as the mainland has more being than the sea, so speech is more powerful than silence; it has a greater intensity of being. 7 Silence is woven into the very texture of human nature, but it is only the basis on which the higher appears. In the human mind silence is merely knowledge of the Deus absconditus, the hidden god. In the human spirit silence is merely the silent harmony with things and the audible harmony of music. In the human body silence is the fount of beauty. But as beauty is more than the physical body, and music more than the inaudible ground of the spirit, and the revealed God more than the Deus Absconditus, so speech is more than silence. 8 Of his own accord, man would never have been able to create speech out of silence. Speech is so completely different from silence that man himself would never have been able to make the leap from silence to speech. The fact that two contrary phenomena like silence and speech are so closely allied as to seem to belong together, could never have been achieved by man, but only by an act of God Himself. The contiguity of silence and speech is a sign of that Divine state in which they are perfectly united. It was inevitable that speech should come out of silence. For since Christ the Divine Word came down to men from God, the "still small voice", the way of the transformation of silence into speech was traced out for all time. The Word that appeared two thousand years ago was on the way to man from the beginning of time, and therefore from the very beginning there was a breach between silence and speech. The event of two thousand years ago was so miraculous that all silence from time immemorial was torn open by speech. Silence trembled in advance of the event and broke in two.