Thursday, September 17, 2009


Did you really wanna fight over something
It's really nothing; it doesn't matter
Did you really wanna scar my heart with words that hurt me?
Don't hurt me

Not Poetic:
I don't really wanna cry over issues
Wet tissues stick to my shoes
Can't take back words we've spoken
But I'm hopin' you'll forgive me

Oddly enough, they're both part of the same song*. Part of the same chorus. This is part of an unexplained phenomena that causes some words to sound poetic, and others... n this case, tissues, not so. By the way, this is not a dis on the song, I like the song, but that part, and others, are most certainly not poetic.

Unfortunately, to all appearances, this phenomena is completely subjective. It may not be, it may be that there is an absolute standard for poetry (and, contrary to what I want to believe, it is not Switchfoot. Their song Gone violates my subjective standard for poetry [once again, this is not a dis on the song])

I kind of wish I knew why some things just sound better than others. Why is it that using the word tissues just doesn't... work? Why is it that "Everyone wants everyone else's everything" just... works? I shall now make use of last year's Lit class to attempt to answer the question. Also, I think I'll just lay down some random thoughts on the subject, which have no basis whatsoever.

Imagery, parallelism, onomatopoeia, and other literary devices make things "work". It's just a fact that rhyming was never enough, and that non-rhyming, well constructed works are far better. It's also a fact that well constructed works that rhyme are the best. ("Have mercy on me, Oh God, according to You're unfailing love. According to You're great compassion, blot out my transgressions.")

Every word means something. Every word carries definitional baggage. That baggage changes between every person. When you say "tissues", I - being a guy - think of snot. Not tears. Snot. You just ruined your poetic street credit for 50% of the population by sticking the word "tissues" into your song. Words are more than just the letters they are composed of. They are more than the sum of their parts. Words carry connotations, carry meaning. Some words can carry a world of meaning. Some words just sound funny, whatever they mean. (before I heard a xylophone, I thought it was an instrument like the kazoo. Named funny because nobody could think of another word to go with the rest of the alphabet. True story. That Fischer-Price kiddie xylophone didn't help either.) (Also, I'm mildly impressed that I managed to spell xylophone correctly without spell-checker. Hooray for Richard Scary)

This post feels out of character.

*(The Fight Song by Sanctus Real, if you didn't know that already)


  1. 1. I never knew how to spell "dis" before today.
    2. Ditto about Gone.
    3. Grin about the kazoo comment.
    4. "This post feels out of character." Hmm, I think it does, a little. But no matter, it's a very cheery writing style.
    5. I like lists like this one and I'm not sure why. (I'm feeling chipper today, Micah.)

  2. Connotations are what I love about language. Because they're not standard, everyone has a slightly different connotational understanding of any given word. I think that's AWESOME. But, it makes writing harder. And it makes literary analysis preposterous. I, won't rant.

    I like the word tissues. Even better, doesn't it sound like something you'd say when someone sneezed, as an alternative to "bless you"?


  3. It sounds out of character in the way you usually write. I think it's because you have a less clear idea of what you think on the matter or what you're trying to say. Usually your writing is quite crisp and to the point, yet methodical and poetic.

    This is interesting, and you have a point about connotations, yet somehow I can't help thinking there's more to it than that.