Just when I seem to master some new slang, the kids go and change it. Are “word” and “word up” still cool? Is “cool” still cool? Oh well, that’s the nature of language. Slang must constantly be renewed to fulfill its purpose. And misusages, if enough people adopt them permanently, eventually get approved by the panels of sage lexicographers, and added to all the dictionaries we use everyday. It doesn’t happen overnight, mind you. “Ginormous” can be traced back to 1948, but it just got the green light to be in the dictionary in 2007! On the opposite end of the spectrum, some words seems to hang around long after their time is up, and others simply get boxed up and packed away, largely forgotten. I think an example of the latter would be a word I discovered yesterday on Poetikat's blog.
Kat posted a poem written in the form called a “villanelle.” I wasn’t familiar with that term, so I headed over to Wikipedia to check it out. It turns out a villanelle is not a poem about miniature evil mustachioed men in black, but rather, it’s a poetic form that dates back to at least the Renaissance, and is known for its very strict rules of composition. Perhaps the most famous is Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. Then, in an interesting lexicological synchronicity, the word that showed up in my inbox from the Merriam-Webster Word-a-the-Day people was “eclogue.” That turns out not to be a typo in a guidebook to green vacations, but is actually another kind of poetry, namely one “in which shepherds converse.” Whoo-kay. Actually, an eclogue is an even older type of poetry—dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. I think a poet could have a lot of fun writing a modern version of an eclogue these days. Think of all those old cattle-versus-sheep-ranching movies we saw as kids. And they’re still making them (The Outsider, 2002, with Naomi Watts, Tim Daly and a couple of Carradines), so why not bring “eclogue” down from the attic and dust it off, too?
On a somewhat related note, I have to say a word about type fonts. I think we may have gone too far when we invented fonts without serifs. For example, a while ago on the local radio station, the young lady reading the news referred to North Korea’s Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il as Kim Jong the Second. Her copy was undoubtedly written in a font without serifs. Of course, if you’re that uninformed to begin with, maybe a set of serifs isn’t really going to help much.
Sheep photo from Wikimedia Commons Font photo from www.walyou.com
The Cloud Messenger (Meghadūta) is a lyric poem by the respected Indian poet, Kālidāsa. The poem centers around a yaksa in exile. Longing for his beloved, waiting for him on a Himalayan mountain, he asks a cloud to take a message to her. The sights he tells the cloud it will see on its way make up most of the poem.
The idea of recording observations appeals to me. I thought The Cloud Messenger was the perfect title for a blog about the journey that we all make as we move through our days.
I'm a baby boomer who grew up dancing in the streets of Detroit during the classic Motown years, lived beside the Rocky Mountains for many years, now retired and living (and writing full time) in S. Ontario. I have one blog for rock 'n' roll oldies, and one for nature, poetry and life along the Lake.