Words hold the images for all earthly time.
March 12, 2014
A VG Serial: Hills of Eden
Images in the poetry we write to describe the indescribable, the very substance of what lies beneath all images, the core, the kernel of truth that is in the immutable face of eternity. We see beneath the craggy bluffs and through the stately sentinels of trees, and beneath the waters that flow in the rivers and streams, in the deer that dance in the meadows, the trout that leaps to catch a nymph or a mayfly, in the lyrical songs the birds sing, in the scissoring language of bees as they make love to flowers, in all that passes by and lingers in our minds like a fragrance beyond description, almost beyond recall.
The images mellow with time, like a fine wine with a taste that lingers in the mouth’s buds. And the images of this hallowed land that has borne so many of us up for so long, might be kept safe from harm in some secret place of the heart. They can be referred to like photographs in an album, flicked through, studied, envisioned once again from a new perspective. They can be framed and set upon the walls of the mind as in a gallery or a museum, and some could be placed under special lighting to enhance them, bring them close as if they were magnified. And, some could be kept in a kind of special wallet that you could open and show to others you might meet.
Each image could become a kind of talisman, a good luck piece, a lucky charm, that one might recall in moments of despair or hopelessness, or when far from home, suffering from that special sickness that comes from longing for something you once had that is now out of reach.
The beauty and the intricacy of the human mind add another dimension to such a talisman that I might give you, a token you can keep in your pocket. As you bring it out and look at it and remember what it meant to me, it can assume those associations you bring to it. So, the images in the talisman eventually become your images, not mine. It is a matter of semantics. In general semantics, we learn more about the power and magic of words, the sheer mystical force of language.
For instance, we have the word for “chair.” That is the generic word for any chair and is devoid of description. The word does not distinguish between an easy chair, a high-backed chair, or any other kind of chair. It’s just a word to denote something to sit on and can be of any shape or size, made of any material.
Semantics shows how we load up a generic term like “chair” with emotional content. If we define the object as “grandpa’s chair,” then this adds more meaning to the generic term. Thinking of grandpa’s chair dredges up certain memories, memories of him sitting there. We can add further content to the symbol of grandpa’s chair if we say that “this is grandpa’s chair, the chair he died in.” Then, the symbol of the chair becomes very powerful indeed, for it now carries an even more special meaning.
And, so it is with the image of a sunset or a sunrise, or any of the images pertaining to these Ozarks. You can add your own dimensions and emotional content to any image. The talisman in your pocket takes on meaning just for you each time you call upon its power to spark and summon your own memories from a series of generic images.
And, how do you revive those images of mystical hills and deep hollows, and sunlit meadows and shining streams and frozen bluffs and songbirds in trees, and the whippoorwill’s plaintive cry as dusk cloaks the land with long soft shadows just before the night takes it all away.
Perhaps there is a way. Perhaps with words written on a page that someone might read when all that existed, all that was of those times and that place are gone, truly gone. Perhaps the words are the way to make things that are long dead live again, in the mind, in memory, in the heart.
And, so these words, these ephemeral images so fleeting and yet so vivid once, stand as a kind of hymn to the Ozarks. That others might see the paintings, hear the songs being sung, listen to the symphonic music of nature, and have a personal talisman to touch and hold and keep and smell and taste long after I am gone from these hills and have put down my notebook and gone to sleep.
If only the words remain, that is enough. They hold the images for all earthly time. Enough? The words, ultimately, are everything, and are all that may be left to us and generations yet to come.
Hills of Eden will be published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Please click the title, Hills of Eden, to read more about Jory Sherman and his books.