I'm having a hard time deciding what word to choose this week. Not because I've run out of words, but rather because I've been reading a lot of poetry lately and poetry is so full of wonderful words that I get overwhelmed. For years I thought that I didn't like poetry because I tried reading it in the way that I read prose, but once I began slowing down and reading it aloud I fell in love. Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society, Mr. Keating, influenced my understanding of poetry more than any class or study I have been part of.
"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here — that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?" (Dead Poets Society)
Today's Word: Harbinger
Three syllables. Pronounced [HAHR-bin-jer] Noun - defined as a person who goes ahead and makes known the approach of another; herald or anything that foreshadows a future event; omen; sign.
This is another example of a word that must be spoken aloud. Do it. Say it aloud right now. Isn't that satisfying? Don't worry if people are looking at you weird. Harbinger is just that good.
My strongest memories of this word are from Macbeth. Macbeth offers to go to his wife and tell her that Duncan is coming to spend the night at his house. Macbeth: "I’ll be myself the harbinger and make joyful, The hearing of my wife with your approach." Of course, Lady Macbeth's joy at the approach of Duncan will lead to a less than peaceful night for Duncan, but still Macbeth fulfills his duty as a harbinger.
Words move us to do great things. The world itself wouldn't exist if God himself had not spoken it into existence. Perhaps you will never find yourself reading or writing poetry, but that doesn't mean that beautiful, well chosen words can't be part of your speech and writing. Listen to music, TED talks, and well written articles and you will hear figurative language and be moved by its powerful effects.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."