Monday, August 08, 2005

Put in a good word for me

Yesterday's blog made me think about how much I love palimpsest as a word. It's somehow palpable and incestuous and conveys so beautifully that sense of layers of hidden meaning. That made me think about all the other words I really love (in the interests of not revealing the abysmal depths of my Commando comics German - don't you think Dumbkopf is such a wonderfully evocative word - I'm sticking to English) :

Palimpsest (see above)

Myrmidon (a word at once poetic and lethal, redolent of shaken spears and rosy-fingered dawns)

Impeccable (the sound says it all: the 'im' turning up its nose and then the precise decimal of the 'k' sound putting you in your place)

Manifesto (such a powerful, driving word. Like a great engine revving up - Spender writes "After the first powerful plain manifesto / The black statement of pistons" - but also with something deeply human about it - so much better than 'dynamo' for instance - and something vaguely magical, as though it could be the name of some Shakespearian magician)

Deciduous (a helpless word - filled with the sorrow of things shed; R.S. Thomas writes "In the forests of metal / the one human sound / was the lament of the poets / for deciduous language")

Travesty (a word that goes too far and is suddenly brought back, the sense of lines crossed, rules broken, of living outside the norms)

Execrable (you can just feel yourself scraping the bottom of the barrel here, the contempt, the physical disgust contained in that word. Lovely)

Metempsychosis (a combination of two beloved words - metamorphosis and pysche; this is a magical word, at once exact and visionary, a word that speaks of the complexity, alchemical processes)

Igneous (something black and hard and coal-like and burning; a word that erupts into your mind and then slowly cools)

Cornucopia (you can just see the horn overflowing with more things than you can cope with can't you? A word literally brimming with promise and possibilities)

Finis. (Don't you just love how the absence of the h that you just naturally add on heightens the sense of abruptness, of something not quite complete?).

No, seriously, Finis.

8 comments:

the still dancer said...

What shall I call this? extended onematopaeia? You have done marvelously, sir, evoking all the poetry of drama of these "mere" words.
I might have casually strolled past "igneous" a thousand times before, but never again will I come across the word without feeling it erupting in my mind. "Impeccable" brought to mind the opening lines of Lolita.
Some of us had attempted something like this some time ago, but beside this those stilted efforts sink into puerile insignificance.

the still dancer said...

err..make that poetry and drama

ozymandiaz said...

Marvelous blog, sir. Words have two intrinsic values to me that I find inseparable. What they mean (obviously) and how they roll off of the tongue. Your little collection reminded me of that. I think of the Python skit of words that are either “woody” or “tinny”. These words are definitely all “woody”. Good show.

Falstaff said...

Kaashyapeya / Ozymandiaz: Errr...thanks. Such praise as this is a source of considerable gratification (another word I love by the way, such a greedy, lip-smacking word).

Oz: Oh my God! A Python skit I haven't seen. Woe is me!

Runglee said...

mellifluous - a meandering river.. honey instead of water?

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Myrmidons? Look up a lovely dark gory piece called "The Janissaries of Emillion". Nice name?

And a'speirin' a' gory, how about 'consanguinary'? Or 'delectation'? Or (this one's a phrase) 'warp and weft'?

Wodehouse, Wodehouse. HE is the master here.

J.A.P.

Falstaff said...

runglee: a beautiful word. Always contrasted in my mind with dissonant - a river raging in anger over rocks.

J.A.P.: Do you know that I almost added Janissaries to the list? (I left it out because it's one of those words, like Scheheradze that the English tongue doesn't really do justice to). Love delectation. And yes, warp and weft is gorgeous, except it's less the words (what I really like is woof - such an incredible word) and more the weaving rhythm of the phrase.

caution: diggin my own grave said...

u realise u hv listed 11 words here n nt 10?