Poetry of the Land

Reader Contribution by Kiko Denzer
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The poetry of the land is built on words that describe what we see and feel outside, in the matrix of our origins.

The editors of dictionaries are, according to the article below, voting to put the words up for extinction — perhaps so that we lose the names of the things we love prior to losing the things themselves? Clearly, this is symptomatic of our times and challenges, but still, the article makes the case for cultivating our ability to speak beautifully, in gratitude for the gifts of life:

“A basic literacy of landscape is falling away up and down the ages. And what is lost along with this literacy is something precious: a kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our relations with nature and place. As the writer Henry Porter observed, the Oxford University Press deletions [from their “junior dictionary”] removed the “euphonious vocabulary of the natural world—words which do not simply label an object or action but in some mysterious and beautiful way become part of it.”

Consider ammil, a Devon term meaning “the sparkle of morning sunlight through hoar-frost,” a beautifully exact word for a fugitive phenomenon I have several times seen but never before been able to name. Shetlandic has a word, pirr, meaning “a light breath of wind, such as will make a cat’s paw on the water”; and another, klett, for “a low-lying earth-fast rock on the seashore.” On Exmoor, zwer is the onomatopoeic term for the sound made by a covey of partridges taking flight. Smeuse is a Sussex dialect noun for “the gap in the base of a hedge made by the regular passage of a small animal”; now that I know the word smeuse, I will notice these signs of creaturely movement more often.”

Read more here. (Those interested in birds please note there are some wonderful bird references included…)


— Kiko