Monday, March 05, 2007

The Power of Words

so much depends
a red wheel barrow
glazed with rain
beside the white

The Red Wheelbarrow, 1923
William Carlos Williams

This poem has stuck with me from my introduction to it in English class in high school. I've remembered it ever since then, and I find that it pops into my mind at different key moments in my life. Simple words, carefully placed around each other, carry such meaning and power. Now, as I consider our eventual move to a totally unfamiliar place that is known for its starkness, I find some small hope in these words. God, give me the eyes to see the red wheelbarrows and white chickens in my new circumstances!

My English teacher tried desperately to get us to see, to listen, to understand the power of poetry and prose. You could see the despair and frustration in his eyes when his passion for language was met by indifference from the students. But I always loved it, though I tried not to let it show too much. (I'm not sure why it was considered such an "uncool" thing to love to learn. I hope attitudes have changed for teenagers.) In certain poems, short stories and books, I find myself transported to another consciousness that I cannot find anywhere else. In some circumstances I find that happens at a movie, or at a live theatre perfomance.

I love the power of words. I yearn to have the skill, creativity, and inspiration to shape words with such meaning and power. Every now and then I catch a glimpse of something deeper in my own writings, which gives me hope and despair. One of my personal goals has been to write, but I guess I've lacked the personal discipline and courage to do so. So a consumer rather than producer I continue to be.

I shall go galumping through life
in the big boots of a fool,
and getting up again.
It shall be so much fun!

My Life, 1987
Stephanie Holmgren

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