The sounds associated with nature and the arts reflect the regional and cultural environments in which they occur. Gradually these sounds become part of each individual’s cognitive development. Early in life infants learn to associate sounds with visual images in their immediate environment. Most toddlers develop a repertoire of paired associations between animal sounds and animals or animal pictures before they form sentences.
Sounds associated with the language of poetry can also evoke visual images. Like instrumental vocals, the sounds of poetry may also stir our emotions. As sounds remind us of scenes and experiences we have enjoyed, we gradually grow to value the creators of these works as much as we value the images and the sounds themselves. Consider the subtle differences in the effect that the following poetry passages have on you as a reader, eliciting vivid images of “the sea-breeze damp and cold” pervading the atmosphere in the first excerpt, while the north-wind roars in “baffled rage at pane and door” in the second.
We sat within the farm-house old,
Whose windows, looking o’re the bay,
Gave to the sea-breeze damp and cold,
An easy entrance, night and day.
Not far away we saw the port,
The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,
The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,
The wooden houses, quaint and brown, …