Saturday, September 25, 2010

Audrey and Dana On Words

(A re-post of Audrey Assad's blog, "A brief word on words.")

Audrey Assad is as fine an artist with words as with her piano and a vocal score. I found this post from her and thought I’d combine it with the Trinity Forum post on Dana Gioia to make an important statement on a neglected subject. Language, including poetry, has fallen into disrepute and disrespect, out of favor with pragmatism because “mere” words have no cash value; reputation-ruined by postmodern skepticism, its smirking accusations of a text as a veil for power play. Language has also been assaulted, in my opinion, by the “clarity” requirements of modern prose which rob us of the best words in the brightest settings. If I have one wish for the rest of my vocational life, it is that God would give me the time, leisure, talent and support to write and, however possible, redeem language.

Audrey’s blog follows. First, here is a link to the Trinity Forum article on Dana Gioia, a Christian academic and poet, former head of the National Endowment for the Arts:

The article in the Atlantic is well worth the read.

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“Here is the One that I worship;
The Word, who wordless me leaves.
‘Tis in this bright Light that I linger;
A Light that shadowless be.
And I cannot serve another,
For it is I that belongs to He;
He, the One that I worship;
The Word, who wordless me leaves.”

I wrote this on a flight home today, thinking of poetry and song, and how lackluster our language is fast becoming. To this lover of literature, the manners of modernity seem monochrome, even in art. It is truly tragic.

John 1:1-5 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God; He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

I would posit that, if one of Christ’s titles be “Word” — then little words are lent some echo of His dignity, His heraldic solemnity, His creativity. They, and language, which makes use of them, are of grave importance. If we do not steward them faithfully, we will lose sight of the heaven-opening, earth-shaking significance of Christ’s title of “Word”.

God spoke Himself to us.

My poetry is poor indeed; however, I can laurel it with this one small crown, that I care about the words themselves. These little garlands of letter and ink, these clusters of curves and lines, these tightly-knit trusses are my dear old friends, and I am compelled to treat them as such. Far be it from me to deny a word its dignity.

I may not have technique, or even style; but truthfully, I love words. And so, I write,

“Let us wreathe our words
Let us cloak them in courtliness
Let us weave them with cobalt and emerald and scarlet
Let them no longer languish and linger in common dress
No, let us garland our words
Let us garb them in golden thread.”

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