Posted by: ktzefr | March 7, 2019

What’s in a Word?

     Two things I like about my favorite coffee shop, besides the varieties of great-tasting coffee, are these:  the perfect designs of fern leaves and hearts in the latte foam and the shop’s “word of the day.”  The creative designs make me smile and the challenge of a new word keeps my brain clicking.  Sometimes I recognize the word and can rattle off the meaning, but not that often.  Usually I admit that I don’t have a clue.

     Today the “word of the day” was “melic” – I thought “medic” and “melancholy.”  It sounded like a mood.  Are you melic today?  Or, perhaps, an herb or spice.  What if you add a pinch or a dollop or a teaspoon of melic to the turmeric and ginger? But this reminded me of metallic and that was no good.  Who wants food that leaves a metallic taste in the mouth.

     I read the meaning — “of/or relating to song, especially of Greek lyric poetry.”  So it’s all about turning Greek lyric poetry into song. 

     I could relate to this.

     When I was a child and was alone and bored, I would turn the poetry in my dad’s The Golden Treasury of Songs and Lyrics to song and sing to an empty house.  It wasn’t Greek lyric poetry, but imagine classic poems set to the rhythms of 1960s rock.

     Herrick’s”Thou art my life, my love, my heart,/The very eyes of me,/And hast command of every part,/To live and die for thee…” or  Hood’s “I remember, I remember/The house where I was born…” (Sort of like Springsteen’s My Hometown but, of course, I lived in Kentucky then and that song came 20 years later).  I recall the times I may have sung Lord Byron.  “If I should meet thee /After long years,/How should I greet thee?/With silence and tears.”

     Sometimes I imagined a boy walking about his house on the other side of town or the other side of the world singing poetry and thinking about me.  Lord Byron’s “She walks in beauty, like the night…” or Wordsworth “She was a Phantom of delight…” or even Coleridge  “She is not fair to outward view/As many maidens be;/Her loveliness I never knew/Until she smiled on me.” 

     Can you imagine a teenaged boy ever doing that sort of thing?!

     In those days I spent hours thumbing through the old book of poems, singing verses I often didn’t understand, finding notes here and there that my dad had written in school – dates that must have had some special meaning (Friday, March 19, 1923?), references to Bible verses (II Kings 19, 6-36 – I looked it up but found no connection to the poem), underlined passages – Wordsworth’s “Though nothing can bring back the hour/Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower…”  The underline must have been after 1961, the year the movie “Splendor in the Grass” came out, the story of a young girl dealing with her own coming of age and the love and heartbreak that accompany those years.   I must have underlined that one myself because of the movie or just because I liked the phrase – or simply the word “splendor.”    What event or act could ever be better than one described as splendor?

     Those old poems were filled with meanings to cover any and every emotion.  The words were mostly read by adults, but they had – and still have, I hope — the power to touch a teenaged heart. 

     Discovering the meaning of the word “melic” sent me on a journey into the past.  Of poetry and song.  Of alone times.  Of the difficulties of growing up.     

     I love the power of words.  Strong  words.  Tender words.  Pretty words.  Words that sound like music. 

     Don’t you?

 

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Responses

  1. Wonderful! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Thierry. Congrats with the recent successes!


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