To Me the Words Are Nice the Way They Sound
I’ve always been attracted to the sound of words. The authors I love best do more than just communicate with accuracy (although that’s an under appreciated accomplishment itself). I read with my ear as much as my eye. The great writers master not just the meaning of words, but the cadences, textures, and flavors of words. I always read Shakespeare aloud because it’s as much a pleasure to hear it as to comprehend it. The two, in fact, go hand in hand.
It’s hard to put your finger on this aural aspect of language. Some phrases work for us almost magically.
I just love the way he puts that.
I need to read that part again.
Don’t you just love the way that sounds?
I’ve talked before about the beauty of words, but sometimes making musical prose is as much about the arrangement of words as it is the choice of words. We students of writing must work to continually develop the instinct that tells us which words to pick and where to put them.
What phrases have you heard, read or written recently that struck you as particularly eloquent or beautiful? Please share them in the comments below.
“All I could see from where I stood was three long mountains and a wood
I turned and looked another way and saw three islands in a bay.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I agree–sometimes that kind of makes it hard to write a poem because I don’t always want to surround that perfect phrase or image or word with a lot of stuff that may detract from it. But a word isn’t a poem, is it?
A poem can be pretty much anything the poet says it it. I doubt a one-word poem would get much of a reading, however.
Many early 20th century poets agreed with you on the importance of image. Check out the work of William Carlos Williams or poems by Ezra Pound like “In a Station of the Metro.”
Thanks for the comment, Robert .
I agree with my whole heart. The sound and cadence and musicality of well-written prose is one of my greatest joys. There are too many examples to share. I probably reread Gerald Durrell and CS Lewis more than other authors for this reason.