Saturday, October 06, 2007

Words of Power 2

Yesterday I posted some of my power words, two of which created largely negative images in me. I don’t want to give the impression that such words are generally negative so here are a few of my more positive ones.

Son: Little legs kick, little arms move. A smile from a crib. I hear a gurgling laugh. I see a small back, riding away for the first time on a bicycle. A young pitcher puts another strike across the plate. A boy near grown hugs his father.

Fog: It’s morning. Sounds are hushed. The grass is thick with wet diamonds. Trees drip a faint, cool liquor to earth. A pleasant chill shrouds my walk, pats soft, damp fingers to my face. Every old curve of road is new again. Mysterious.

Silk: I see a shimmer in dim light; my fingers caress a coolness that is sweet. She moves. A faint sound, too delicate to call a rustle, too soft to call a swish. Slickness clings, wrinkles, smoothes. Pupils dilate.

Tomorrow or Monday I’ll post about some of the words that other bloggers have mentioned in comments here, and about ways to use these words in writing. Thanks to everyone who added their words. Some great stuff there. Interesting stuff.


Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Beautiful imagery! THey aren't just words, they are actually images and sensations all rolled together. Words are incredibly powerful.

steve on the slow train said...

All of your powerful words are of one syllable, and most are of Anglo-Saxon origin. It reminds me that Orwell, in "Politics and the English Language," writes, "Never use a long word when a short word will do." It's no accident that the most powerful words in English are short.

SQT said...

I remember when I worked at a newspaper, they always told us to use words that have the biggest impact. Never say someone was killed if you could say they were murdered-- like that.

While they were only looking at it from the perspective of selling papers it was a good lesson in its way on the power of certain words. Like you, blood stops me cold.

If I were thinking of positive words it would be easy to say "love" but really I think of "tears." Why that should be positive I'm not sure. But it evokes a cleansing to me. Washing away the pain.

Erik Donald France said...

Three more good ones.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

What a great writing activity. I think I'll try it tomorrow.

You know, I've been thinking about your earlier post about symbolism. I think I want to return to that topic at some future point. I've been thinking about it in terms of poetry. I'm asking this..and I'm asking this you think people who write free verse tend to have difficulty infusing layers of metaphor and symbolism into prose? I'm not trying to set off a bomb here, just thinking out loud.

Lisa said...

Great imagery!

Travis Erwin said...

Until these last two posts I have not thougth much about the impact certain words have on me. Now I'm going to ponder over a few and report back tomorrow.

Bernita said...

I wonder if "power words" arrive there because they are words with multiple associations, both personal and cultural.
For me, the operative word in your list is "mist" rather than fog, and "child" rather than son - but the basic concept is the same.

SzélsőFa said...

When I posted about my words, I did not think them being negative. Fear, death, stone, blood, all those things fellow bloggers mentioned...none of them are really negative, are they?
Except perhaps, 'shame', mentioned by me;)

And I love 'mist' and 'child', as Bernita said as well.

Danny Tagalog said...

How would you use 'air'? It's an obvious positive word, but curious how you'd use it. 'Fog' for me is negative, though I'be encountered it as a city dweller....

Best, DT

Lisa said...

I had to stop back here again after reading Candy Harris's post today. Thunder is a word that evokes an emotional response; for me, I think of cozy afternoons with a book and summer thundershowers. After reading Candy's post, I understand that the sound of thunder means so much more to those of you who endured Katrina -- even your pets react differently to it.

Steve Malley said...

I was going to say something, but now I can't remember what it was. Ugh.

This morning is like having a hangover without doing the drinking....

Charles Gramlich said...

Ello, yes they are. And I think too often we forget their strengths and don’t let them work for us the way they can.

Steve, I’ve noticed the one syllable aspect of powerful words in English. I don’t know enough to know whether other languages have similar characteristics. It would be interesting to explore, though.

Sqt, “tears” is a good example, because the resonance builds up sometimes differently for different people. It increases the power of such words but may make them more difficult to use well.

Erik, thanks.

Stewart, I like doing it. Sometimes while I’m in boring meetings I’ll just jot down lists of words on my notepad and see what I get.

Lisa, thanks.

Travis, I tend to think about it a lot. Maybe I should get a life eh? Lol.

Bernita, I think the sheer number of associations is very important in the development of these words. I love mist too as a word, but I grew up in Arkansas always hearing it as fog and that one is stronger for me.

Szelsofa, good point. I don’t think of the words as necessarily negative or positive. More as “strong.” But death certainly calls up more negative images for me, images of loss and so on, and so I think of it as negative in that way.

Danny. “Air.” That’s a good one to think about. I can call up plenty of images related to “breeze” or “wind” but air is tougher in that it’s everywhere and nowhere almost. I tend to think of “air” as more still, though. A hush, a quiet. No movement.

Lisa, my dang internet is giving me fits and I haven’t seen Candy’s post yet.

Steve, if you’re gonna suffer you should have at least had the fun. I’ve got a bit of a real hangover today. We had company over yesterday. It’s not bad, though.

Chris Eldin said...

P.S. Thanks for the link! I hope you don't mind if I linked you as "Teddy Bear Zen" because that's what you look like to me!

Charles Gramlich said...

Church lady, well that wasn't exactly the look I was going for but hey, blog pictures are in the eyes of the beholder so I'll accept your discerning judgement. ;)