Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Grammar is not my strong point. Never was. For instance, I can’t look at a paragraph and tell you where prepositional phrases are or even what a preposition is. I know what a verb and noun are; I know what a subject is. But I know how to craft words into sentences that “sound nice”. Proper punctuation is also beyond me, but if I re-read what I have written I can “feel” if there are too many comas or if sentences are choppy and need a colon or semi colon, though I don’t know WHY they are used in the manner that feels right.

I’m the musician who cannot write his own notes; the guitar tutor who cannot make his own music. Often when the song is writ, it sounds too familiar. This example, I think is a good analogy to how I write. The words feel “right”, the structure looks “good”. I have files of poetry on yellowed pages, partial stories tossed in boxes lost in storage. I must have written volumes worth of love letters. And while I also mostly taught myself to read and write music and play keyboards and even the guitar, I fancy myself a wordsmith.

Both music and words have power, but this is about the words. Words are at the start and end of wars. Words win your lover’s heart or break it. They can shame a person or heal sadness. It was with words that our forefathers drew the blueprint for the most powerful, free nation in the world’s history. Mercy is imparted with words and so too is forgiveness. Comedy, tragedy, parable, knowledge; words can invoke all of these. Shifting sands in desert winds, pulsing tides of oceans; Cosmological mysteries and astronomical wonders can be painted as well with words as with the brush strokes of a painter.

In recent years, the power of words has diminished.

The vocabulary used by our fore fathers is all but lost. Even our current president can scarcely string together a coherent sentence and he even has paid “experts” to do most of the work for him. The poetry of music has been reduced to long, rhythmic progressions of profanities and trendy slang. Sometimes it seems our language is only a step or two away from being reduced to grunts and hand motions.

A person with a confident grasp of an extensive vocabulary can still demand respect and be very successful in life. I hope the digression of words doesn’t go much further. Once we lose knowledge of the power of words we will lose knowledge of a great many other things. Could we write the Constitution today if the Revolutionary War was only just occurring?

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