Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Poetry Thursday: Dictionary Definitions
Wow, I can't believe how many words I managed to find in response to this brief which I did not know the meaning of. I love exploring language, and so this for me was as much an academic exercise as it was an opportunity to write poetry. When I looked through my Collins dictionary, I noticed that many of the words I was unaware of were foreign in their origin, of which there were simply thousands (and how many are not noted in this particular dictionary?). I don't know how many new words are added each year to our English vocabulary, but clearly as we have progressed through our history new words inevitably come into use, older words become less and less known, and in short there is bound to be a turnover in our use of language. That, for me, is fascinating in itself. We are changing our conception of our own world and our own self, which is reflected in the words we use each and every day. I was inspired to write my poem after this thought. (Please note that I haven't looked up the meaning of these words as requested in the brief - I'm hoping I haven't unknowingly written lines which mistake nouns for verbs, adjectives for nouns, etc, as I have no idea what their meanings are...)
Leaves wafer thin, finger licked to peruse another letter's offerings,
This book represents all that I can conceive myself to be.
And how much, therefore, do I not know about my own being and my own roots,
if I do not understand the meaning of all these combinations of letters,
with their multiple origins, phonetic pronunciations, cultural derivations.
Take anopheles, or anoa, or anserine.
And cyanosis, cybernating contumaciously.
Which parent gave birth to these mysterious children?
Did I know their naturalized forefathers, foreigners adopted in this familiar land,
their brothers irregular inflections who will forever remain anonymous to me?
Or was it native scientists who defined their variant spellings,
who lie placarded infamous for all time,
their life celebrated to the end?
Did an astronomer reach into the sky and pick out an orphaned definition,
scrimmaging for the cuspid teratoma of a keloid loculus,
and finding that its particular face pleased him?
Or was it the social commentator who noted the derogatory nature
of some of these new additions to our word family,
the offensive connotations attached to their employment with us?
And what does one do when one impolders or noddles;
have I ever been guilty of those particular acts?
Who or what is 'nerine' anyway; are they nasty, nebulous, naughty, neat?
Am i eidetic, a quoin, razoo, falderal?
Parent-volume, now reveal to me my brethren's little known secrets.