When the world is too much with me, as it is so often these days, I find retreat and solace in words. Sometime the words of my favorite authors, sometimes simply words. Words that, somehow, make me happy. Who knows why?
Here are a few:
Now I was sure that this had to be some type of derivative of “to speak.” In fact, I was so sure that I used it in a poem I was working on. Bespoke. The word, the rhythm, matched beautifully, or so I thought, with the melancholy, Victorian mood I was working so hard to present.
What made me go to the dictionary “just to be sure” I cannot tell you. But it brought me up short. And so I changed the word in my poem, but I must admit that my heart broke just a little. For bespoke means custom-tailored. But I still love this word, as my thoughts drift to a bygone era in beloved England.
Last but one, second last. Doesn’t this 50-cent word imply an importance that should not be eclipsed by the ultimate? Penultimate, in my mind, should be more than ultimate. Can there be such a thing? I’m writing this on the penultimate day of June, and I declare that it is much more important than June 30th. After all, this gives me one more chance. Penultimate. I like it.
Oh, to do anything blithely these days. Is it something that remains only for the young, those who haven’t experienced enough of the world to forever wring out any trace of blithe? I’m not sure that I’ve ever done anything blithely, so serious a world-view have I. But the word still fills my heart with something that comes close to joy. So maybe there is hope for me. And just maybe there is hope for the world.
And lastly (for blithely was my penultimate word)
How I love this word. I actually used it in my morning’s journal entry. All those Henry James novels, E.F. Benson, and other English writers of the early part of the last century. Their characters, their way of speaking, their syntax, their vocabulary gets into one’s blood. I’m comfortable living there, albeit with an understanding that we view the past through a sepia lens. Some days it is exactly what we need.
And so I blithely leave you, dear reader, to return to my sunporch and penultimate volume of the adventures of Mapp and Lucia. Thank you, Mr. Benson. I’m sure your wardrobe was bespoke, albeit a bit threadbare by the end of your journey.