Thursday, January 05, 2006

The power of words

I was thinking today about words--for some reason, I was thinking about homonyms.

Once, back in my secretarial days, I was typing my boss's speech about politicians. He was decrying their tendency to change positions on a whim, and he had written something about "shifting stand." I laughed and thought it was a brilliant play on words; he caught it and told me it was a typo. But wasn't it perfect?

And then I started thinking about "hear, hear!" Lots of people type "here, here," which I'm pretty sure is not the right spelling. It's an old saying that says, in other words, "Hear him!", so it's what you shout when you agree with someone.

Then I started thinking about the adjective "deep-seated," as in a deep-seated fear. Then I thought that maybe "deep-seeded" is better--the analogy would be a fear that's buried deep, like a seed, and gradually rises to bloom. Then again, maybe the right word IS "deep-seeded" and I've been writing it wrong all these years. And maybe it should be "here, here" as in "here and now," or even "Hear, here" as in "everybody here, listen to da man!"

Watched a brilliant movie tonight that sounds more dire than it is--WIT, an HBO film starring Emma Thompson. She plays an English professor who earned a doctorate studying John Donne--a poet I happen to adore. Anyway, the movie is about her valiant fight against ovarian cancer.

The movie really is more about doctors and patients than English professors, but I had to love her emphasis on words and her dry wit. Truly a wonderful film, and Ms. Thompson co-wrote the screenplay. I highly recommend it, but keep the tissues handy.

If you don't know Donne, try this verse on for size:

Why dost thou wound and break my heart
As if we would forever part--
Hast thou not heard an oath from me?
After a day, or two, or three?
I would come back and live with thee.
Take, if thou dost distrust that vow
This second protestation now.
If on thy cheek that spangled tear--
That sits as dew of roses there--
That tear shall scarce be dry before
I'll kiss the threshold of thy door.
Then weep not, sweet, but this much know--
I'm half-returned before I go.

Ah. And from memory yet. His poetry has a way of sticking with you.


1 comment:

Ruth said...

I love Emma Thompson's acting -- she is so talented. I have actually seen like the last half of "Wit" but it's been a while -- I should try to rent it (I love Donne's poetry too).
Congrats on the new computer -- I really need one but am a bit short of funds at the moment!