About a month ago Jim started forwarding me these random “word of the day” emails. It’s just some website spreading daily content to a list of subscribers. I like words, and was like “way cool”. The email and site, if you click on it, has the word with the definition, pronunciation, origins, example usage, and a relatable image.
Learning about the origins of words is interesting to me and discovering how different words are connected is good to know when you are in the business of working with language. But that’s all tangent to the weirdness I’ve encountered with regard to this word of the day thing.
He didn’t forward the emails every day, just random days with super cool words. While in NYC he sent me ‘portentous’ and I, as I naturally would, developed a poem around it (https://shyspark.wordpress.com/2019/07/27/portentous-man/). I thought, well this is something. I’ll just try to do this now. And I’ve done a few since then, which is cool, but still not to the weird part.
A short time later, I was working on a different poetic endeavor, and came to a place where I wanted to use language from the song, “America the Beautiful”. As it turns out the song, which had been through multiple versions in its lifetime and was originally a poem written around 1895, first published with the name “America” according to Wikipedia.
The first line of that poem was “O beautiful for halcyon skies”. The line was changed in future versions written for musical compositions to what we are familiar with now, “O beautiful for spacious skies”. There have actually been quite a few changes and permutations in the last 100 years. Interesting.
I really wanted to use the original language and pulled ‘halcyon’ out for my poem, as well as some of the other, lesser known phrases.
Last week one of the words of the day was halcyon. The definition.. denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful.
It was an interesting coincidence that this word, strange and antiquated, would cross my path so notably twice in just a few weeks. I was like. Hmmmm.
During that same time frame I have also been studying a few specific poets for a paper I am writing for my masters. One of the poets is Natalie Diaz. I read her book, “When My Brother was an Aztec”, in which the second poem is “Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Reservation”. Whew – that is a mouthful to say and a finger twister to type. I had mostly glossed over the title when I read it and thought a few of the words were made up (or at least misspelled). One of those words was Abecedarian, which, is actually a word and it is spelled correctly. It means: arranged alphabetically or rudimentary or elementary. Each line of that poem starts with a different letter of the alphabet, in order.
It showed up last week as one of the words of the day. So, twice, in a very short time this “word of the day” site has issued forth some word that I have already been thinking about. Isn’t that strange? Now I’m all curious what the word is going to be every day to see if it happens again. Three times, and I’m calling the cops because somebody is breaking and entering into my brain.
Anyway, that’s enough about that. How is your Thursday going?
Keep it Saucy,