Posts Tagged 'words'

Power of the Word

Librettos, seen ‘cold’ on the page, can appear preposterous; but, Michael Oliver demonstrates, the librettist’s craft is as great as any playwright’s.

What makes a good libretto? A cynic might reply with the old maxim that if anything’s too stupid to be spoken then let it be sung, no doubt adding that quite a few marvellous operas have appalling libretti. Take Il Trovatore, for example: two rivals in love, unaware that they’re brothers; a crazed all gypsy woman who throws the wrong baby on the fire! Preposterous!

In fact, the libretto of Il Trovatore is perfectly suited to its purpose, a superbly crafted machine for bringing irreconcilable emotions into violent conflict: a machine for manufacturing pretexts for arias. Just what Verdi wanted and needed. A good libretto is one that inspires a composer to produce his finest music. It’s incomplete without the music, and to criticise a libretto without taking account of the music is like condemning a recipe without tasting the dish.

Continue reading ‘Power of the Word’

Selfish Saturday: The Advantage of Absence

let-light-inIt was completely unplanned.

I was gearing up for the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo, assuming I would be just filling in daily slots with DailyOM snippets, as I usually do when I’m writing elsewhere, and return to business as usual in August. I didn’t expect that I would actually walk away from this place for a whole seven weeks.

See, business as usual was the problem here.

In nearly eight years, I’d never taken a break from posting, not for more than a few days at a time. I was long overdue for a sabbatical that I didn’t even know I needed. I didn’t plan it, but it happened, and it was right. I won’t apologise.

While I was away, I had fun writing yet another story in a series I’ve been working on for a couple of years now. It’s not publishable, for several reasons, but I don’t necessarily write for publication. Beyond that, I stayed mostly away from words, reading little, basically letting the clutter in my head sort itself out. It’s nowhere near done, but I’m saner than I’d been for a long time.

Some of my regular features here are coming close to running their course, and there will be more free slots soon. I may fill them with something, original or not, or I may not. I’m thinking of resurrecting another blog for original writing, that has lain dormant for years. I don’t know yet. The writing process is something necessary, but there is a charm in the blank page and the suspended moment, not to mention a need for them, that I’ve learned to appreciate.

Trust the first rains of autumn, exceptionally early, to bring the mojo back.

The Music of Language

PowerofWords2When we speak or write, we use the vehicles of words to carry meaning, as well as energy, from ourselves to another person or group of people. We may be speaking to our baby, our boss, or to an audience of 500 people. We may be writing a love letter, a work-related memo, or an entry in our own diary. Whatever the case, each word we speak or write has a life of its own, a vibratory signature that creates waves in the same way that a note of music creates waves. And like musical notes, our words live in communities of other words and change in relation to the words that surround them. When we are conscious of the energy behind our words, we become capable of making beautiful music in the world. If we are unconscious of the power of words, we run the risk of creating a noisy disturbance.

Some of us know this instinctively, while others come to this understanding slowly. Most of us, though, speak without thinking at least some of the time, blurting out our feelings and thoughts without much regard for the words we choose to express them. When we remind ourselves that our words have an impact on the world at the level of energy, we may find within ourselves the desire to be more aware of our use of language.

A fun way to increase our sensitivity to the power of words is to simply make a list of our favorite words and notice the energy they contain. We can write them down and post them where we can see them, or we can speak them aloud, feeling them reverberate in our bodies and in the air around us. This is like learning to consciously play an instrument that we have been playing unconsciously for most of our lives, and the effect can be startling and delightful. As we grow more comfortable and confident playing the instrument of language, we will begin to compose beautiful messages, creating positive energy every time we write or speak.

DailyOM

Cor cordium

O heart of hearts, the chalice of love’s fire,
Hid round with flowers and all the bounty of bloom;
O wonderful and perfect heart, for whom
The lyrist liberty made life a lyre;
O heavenly heart, at whose most dear desire
Dead love, living and singing, cleft his tomb,
And with him risen and regent in death’s room
All day thy choral pulses rang full choir;
O heart whose beating blood was running song,
O sole thing sweeter than thine own songs were,
Help us for thy free love’s sake to be free,
True for thy truth’s sake, for thy strength’s sake strong,
Till very liberty make clean and fair
The nursing earth as the sepulchral sea.

~Algernon Charles Swinburne~

The Pilgrims

Who is your lady of love, O ye that pass
Singing? and is it for sorrow of that which was
That ye sing sadly, or dream of what shall be?
For gladly at once and sadly it seems ye sing.
—Our lady of love by you is unbeholden;
For hands she hath none, nor eyes, nor lips, nor golden
Treasure of hair, nor face nor form; but we
That love, we know her more fair than anything.

—Is she a queen, having great gifts to give?
—Yea, these; that whoso hath seen her shall not live
Except he serve her sorrowing, with strange pain,
Travail and bloodshedding and bitterer tears;
And when she bids die he shall surely die.
And he shall leave all things under the sky
And go forth naked under sun and rain
And work and wait and watch out all his years.

—Hath she on earth no place of habitation?
—Age to age calling, nation answering nation,
Cries out, Where is she? and there is none to say;
For if she be not in the spirit of men,
For if in the inward soul she hath no place,
In vain they cry unto her, seeking her face,
In vain their mouths make much of her; for they
Cry with vain tongues, till the heart lives again.

Continue reading ‘The Pilgrims’


Month at a Glance

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