I am often struck (dumb?…or perhaps ‘struck’ like a bell!)
by the thought that words carry with them haunting constellations of spirits,
the meanings, associations, undertones, overtones, subtle reverberations, cultural references,….
“In description words adhere to certain objects, and have the effect on the sense of oysters, or barnacles.”
–W. C. Williams
…and that these constellations, just like spirits–like ghosts–are always changing
their disposition, their demeanor, and yes their meaning and intention.
“And the good writer chooses his words for their ‘meaning’, but that meaning is not a set, cut-off thing like the move of knight or pawn on a chess-board. It comes up with roots, with associations, with how and where the word is familiarly used, or where it has been used brilliantly or memorably.”
They go from well-intentioned to demonic in a blink of context,
a switch that can be flipped and tripped again, and yet….
“A labor no less difficult, no less phantasmagoric than alchemy. But then, of course, the condition of the lyric is the belief in the impossible.”
…they are still just words, not even real “things” which is what perhaps makes them all the more haunting, for in their vagueness, their lack of reality…
“Words mean something because they always threaten to sound like something else.”