I admit it: I love words. Not with an elevated, academic love, but with a selfish, fetishistic, pleasure-seeking drive. I want to collect them, fawn over them and rub my face in them.
I’ve been known to censor my vocabulary a bit, depending on where and with whom I am. I’m afraid of being seen as snobbish, or full of myself, or an out-of-touch egghead. Or I’m afraid of making others feel bad in some way.
Or, as has happened more than once, I’ll be accused of “intellectualizing” when I’m supposed to be accessing my more primitive feelings. Sometimes it’s true–but sometimes, I’m frustrated that they won’t believe I can be feeling something genuine and express that in passionate and articulate language because it’s what works for me.
There are times for me to craft my choice of words and consider whether they are reaching people clearly, but I think I do it too much. I need to let go of that fear, and come out as the word geek I am.
Some eras of poetic history were very heavy on what we, today, would consider big or obscure words. I like them. I like old, archaic, plush words. I own a beat-up Thesaurus that was published in the 1930s, and it is one of my favorite books–you would not believe some of the stuff in there, and how many of the words are almost gone now.
My poetry isn’t as full of ten-dollar words as some of the old greats. I’m a product of my time and I tend to want my poems to tell a story of some kind to all readers, including people who don’t generally read poetry.
But still…I love words. It’s probably why I enjoy reading Hillman or Jung when my mind is up to it, because I’m guaranteed to encounter words I don’t know. I love the old poets who write in lush, sprawling vocabularies acquired in a type of liberal arts education common to certain groups in bygone eras.
So here’s to owning my fetish! Who’s with me? Do you have a favorite obscure word today?