4 responses

  1. ‘spilling from the daylong wheelbarrow’

    As a writer and speaker of (regrettably) only one language, I sometimes find myself jealous of the easy mellifluidity one hears in languages like Spanish or Japanese. Phrases like this, however, remind me just how beautiful and sonorous English can really be.

    This one is so swimmingly lullaby like! When such euphony arises in English, for all it’s cacophony, it’s like a revelation. To be sure, the bevy of Old English roots you employ in this poem resonate and blend well naturally, but it’s the lyrical arc you give the words that gives the poem it’s music.



    • I bet to speakers of Spanish and Japanese, their own languages can begin to sound stale. But I do love the English language—unlike any other language in the world, I think, in terms of the degree to which it has been influenced by and absorbed the vocabulary of so many other languages. And I always love your comments. Given how well you read me, I think you’re one of the very few whose criticism I would also take seriously. And you’re a writer. :) What do you write?


  2. True! The grass is always greener…

    Your point makes me think of something Jorge Luis Borges said in his 1966 interview with The Paris Review :

    ” (…) and you know, English is a beautiful language, but the older languages are even more beautiful: They had vowels. Vowels in modern English have lost their value, their color. My hope for English—for the English language—is America. Americans speak clearly. When I go to the movies now, I can’t see much, but in the American movies, I understand every word. In the English movies I can’t understand as well. Do you ever find it so? (…) Too fast with too little emphasis. They blur the words, the sounds. A fast blur. No, America must save the language; and, do you know, I think the same is true for Spanish? I prefer South American speech. I always have.”

    The ‘older languages’ Borges seems to be referring to are Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon, languages that he mentions having an affection for studying in the same interview. As an author I admire, I do find these words of his consoling. What beautiful irony, that it is so often the foreigner that shows the native their own culture!

    However, in contrast to Mr. Borges and yourself, I must admit to have written nothing of note. For the most part, I have successfully managed to keep any verse and prose of my own safely locked away. I have, for better or worse, lived the majority of my writing life in accordance with the dictum of that ever so American American, Mark Twain: that it is better to keep one’s mouth closed, and let people think one is a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

    But if I’m being honest, the only thing I’ve authored is cowardice, writ large.



    • I read a good deal of Borges when I was younger. Always wished (like I always do when reading translations) that I could read him in the original. Interesting that he preferred the American accent. I wonder if he still would? Back when he was watching movies, their accents were more mid-Atlantic than “American” — I always think of Catherine Hepburn and Humprhey Bogart. But then you had actors like John Wayne. Nobody talked like John Wayne.


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