Word for Wednesday: W is for writative.

The over-indulgence and general lethargy of the Christmas period seems to have somehow over-ridden my usual unstoppable urge to do!  Even my blogging has hit a bit of a roadblock.  The ideas are still there, but the will to sit at my desk and write is not.  I’ve barely even switched my computer on!

I am hardly the epitome of ‘writative’, but I’ve usually got more to say than I do at the moment!  I thought Byron would be a good choice to fit the writative model though.  Lord George Gordon Byron to give him his full title.  An impressively prolific poet considering he only lived to 36 years of age, he was one of the key figures from the English Romantic period.  He always had something to say!

 

Writative (adjective).

  • (archaic) inclined to much writing; correlating to talkative.
  • marked by the desire or inclination to write.

Derivation: from write, possibly modelled on talkative.

First known use: apparently writative was first used by Alexander Pope in a 1736 letter to Jonathan Swift, saying “increase of years makes men more
talkative but less writative.”

 

Byron was not only writative, he was also a very colourful character, and something of a celebrity in his time.  He was notorious for his excesses and his proclivity for living in a tangled web of love affairs with both women and men, including a scandalous rumoured illicit relationship with his own half-sister.

Reading a little about the lives of Romantic writers like Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge is fascinating.  It serves as a very useful reminder that, although language may have changed quite considerably over the intervening 200 years or so, actually many of the same threads of social acceptability, scandal, and intrigue hold true.  Behind the flowery, archaic language of our forebears there can be some very interesting characters indeed!

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Still only in his mid-twenties, Byron wrote the short lyric poem, She Walks in Beauty. I think it is a lovely example of Romantic writative style at it’s best.  The Romantic poets really knew the full power of the English language.  After all, sometimes less is not more, especially when describing someone that makes your heart skip a beat!

She Walks in Beauty.

 

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light

   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!
(Lord George Gordon Byron).

I’ve really enjoyed the holidays, but I am now also really looking forward to getting back to normal.  The routine of daily life and the business of day to day family goings on is calling me.  So here’s to a happy, healthy 2015 for us all, and a productive year of writing!

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7 thoughts on “Word for Wednesday: W is for writative.

  1. Singbetterenglish

    What a wonderful word – writative. Thanks for shining a light on it. (My spellcheck is telling me that it doesn’t exist – oh ye of little vocabulary!)

    I absolutely agree that the layering of well-chosen word upon well-chosen word in Romantic poetry has a rich, mesmerising power. It would be a great shame if the present fashion for a journalistic-style cutting, cutting, cutting left the baby on the floor with the bathwater.

    By the way – there was an exhibition at the British Library a few years ago where they showed that text-speak was fashionable in Victorian times http://goo.gl/uGIcKx So the fun of removing letters and words was available to the Romantic poets. They chose to embroider a rich quilt instead of buying a white cotton duvet cover from Ikea!

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    1. jenny Post author

      Oh Elaine, I do sometimes think that spellcheck is a bit of a mixed blessing, and in this case just so limiting, which is a shame! I’m pleased I learned to read and write before the all-powerful digital culture really hit school aged children (guilty secret…I still like dictionaries…even paper ones sometimes…shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)

      Tight journalistic style can be a joy to read, but there should always be a place for beautifully expansive writing too. I love your quilt analogy – I will check out that link, thank you!

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      1. Singbetterenglish

        Hi Jenny – I think words will win through, in all their messy magic.

        Have you seen Wordsmith’s work? Forgive me if this is as obvious as ‘have you heard about Google’. 🙂 http://www.wordsmith.org/ His daily word email is apparently very, very popular – I like it because he obviously loves language and because each week’s words are organised into interesting groups, so it’s nothing like one of those ‘get on by increasing your word power’ ads that I remember from newspapers long ago.

        Perhaps, with interesting words, it will be like vinyl records. Do you remember when everyone was getting rid of their vinyl by the bagload when cds were going to be the new and better thing? I remember charity shops here were so flooded with cast-off vinyl, they couldn’t give records away. And now people have realised that the sound on vinyl is richer than the sound on a cd, and that cds don’t last forever. So charity shops have put a premium price on any vinyl that comes their way and record shops, in Brighton anyway, are thriving. Hopefully the fashion for Hemingway prose (and I do like Hemingway, but I’d hate it if everything read like Hemingway) will mellow and rich prose will leap from the shadows.

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        1. jenny Post author

          Haha – no, it wasn’t as obvious as google, as I hadn’t heard of Wordsmith before! Thank you for pointing me there – it looks good. In return, have you heard of Mark Forsyth? I love his books about language, and he has a great blog at http://blog.inkyfool.com

          I think there are many words – books / language / music / names / architecture, to name just a few, that could slot into a sentence reflecting on our often over-hasty abandonment of the old in our rush to the new and shiny. But thankfully it does seem that in most cases we eventually come to our senses and embrace the old alongside the new. And they do say that variety is the spice of life after all!

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          1. Singbetterenglish

            Hi Jenny,

            Thank you for that reminder – I had forgotten his proper name, but I remember being up in the early hours and hearing the Inky Fool on Radio 5live, a predominantly sports channel, answering phone-in questions on words and their roots. It was slightly surreal but heartwarming to hear people, in the middle of the night, expressing their own emotional connection to different words and their curiosity about their origins – it reminded me of neighbours who’ve adopted dogs from rescue homes.

            Long live our love of words!

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              1. Singbetterenglish

                It’s a real lesson in the complexity of humanity. It’s the same audience phoning in to discuss Tottenham Hotspur’s latest goal, ask DIY questions, suggest long-ago soul classics for a jukebox, seek relationship advice and talk about their favourite words. Maybe all radio stations share a more intensely, rawly human quality in the wee small hours.

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