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The Language of Old Poets

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
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Quill pen
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Have you noticed how much the language of poetry has changed over the years? We have gone from this:

There is no room for death,
nor atom that his might could render void.
Thou – thou art Being and Breath,
and what thou art may never be destroyed.
- Emily Bronte, 1846

To this:

Not a red rose or a satin heart,
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light like the careful undressing of love.
- Carol Ann Duffy 1993

Poetry has evolved. Though the passion and sentiment haven’t changed, the language certainly has. There’s something to be said, though, for old poetry. Imagine if Carol Ann’s poem had been written back in 1846. It might go something like this:

Nary a scarlet rose nor satin heart,
I bestow thee an onion.
‘Tis a moon swathed in umber parchment.
It doth promise light
akin to the prudent disrobing of love.

Quill pen
Emily Bronte - Image courtesy of Wikipedia

It is the same poem, but somehow the old language seems to add a more romantic twist.

There is no denying the romanticism of old words, and so here are a few that I think we should bring back into use:

- Tarry (loiter, hang around, waste time.)
- Loll (recline or lean in a relaxed or lazy manner.)
- Descry (discover, perceive, detect.)
- Folly (foolish action, the state of being foolish.)
- Forsake (leave, abandon, desert, renounce.)
- Hapless (unlucky, unfortunate.)
- Dwell (live, reside)
- Quoth (said.)
- Steadfast (firm, fixed, unwavering, resolute.)
- Scorn (treat with contempt or rejection.)
- Swain (male admirer or lover.)
- Foe (enemy, opposer.)

Quill pen
Image courtesy of Pixabay

Then our conversations would sound something like this:

I feel so hapless because I tarried too long at my dwelling. My folly was to loll which caused my swain to forsake me. Quoth he “I descry that you are not steadfast in your love for me, therefore I scorn you and consider you my foe.”

Instead of this:

Unfortunately, I wasted too much time at home. I made the mistake of being lazy which caused my lover to abandon me. He said, “I’ve discovered that you’re not resolute in your love for me, therefore I reject you and now consider you my enemy.”

Wouldn’t that be fun?

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