Sounding off

I was a teenager, and I remember it well. Robin Williams as a teacher of uptight prep school boys, breaking the mold and standing on his desk to challenge them with Walt Whitman:

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,

I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.

Sound your barbaric Yawp! Cut loose from civilization! Sound your song of yourself over the world.

The verse contains it’s own contradiction. YAWPs may be barbaric, but you know what is categorically not barbaric?


Whitman and Williams were talking to a similar crowd: the housed and bloused. Those who understand and comply with society’s expectation.

I do not count myself among them. I would embrace a bit of taming. I am a foreigner to this civilization.

I am the barbarian coming to the rooftops. I do not sound my Yawp defiantly.

I sound it because it is the only sound I’ve got.  It’s not what the people under the rooftops want, I don’t think. It is not what was expected and cross-referenced.

My voice is a tide-tumbled piece broken out from the school of hard-knocks, dropping in where it lands, not invited and little regarded.

It’s barbaric. It’s my voice. It might not get much better than what it is now.

It’s mine though. I like the way it bounces back at me off the rooftops.

I’ll keep sounding it.




You try it. It feels good.

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