In The Walls Do Not Fall, poetess Hilda Doolittle wrote:
“remember, O Sword,
you are the younger brother, the latter-born,
your Triumph, however exultant,
must one day be over,
in the beginning
was the Word.”
Words… Words stronger than war, fiercer than swords…
Hilda Doolittle wrote Trilogy during World War II, as she and her lover Bryher witnessed the horrors of the Blitz from their London house. For the poet, writer and woman of letters she was, words must have represented an escape from the brutality of war, but also a weapon to fight it. They were a way to recreate what the war had broken – souls, buildings, lives, hopes… In Trilogy, past and present become united; perspectives on what it is to be a woman are transformed; the book reveals the organic, syncretic nature of creation and the positive power of words.
I agree. Think only of the worlds that come to life page after full page of writing, the beauty of sounds and letters as you read them, the magic of poetry and prose and the softness, comfort and hope they can bring. But then, there is the other side of words.
Words… Words that hurt, purposely, unwillingly, strongly, fiercely…
This is why I am posting a painting rather than a poem today. Not because I have stopped writing or loving words, but because I wanted a break from them, which might seem extremely strange, or perhaps even inconsistent, considering how much I have actually written for this post already (word count: 250 words).
I wish my words never caused any pain – I wish words never felt like the food people feed the belligerent, manipulative, destructive monsters that live inside us and sometimes – a little too often, maybe – take hold of us. I am dreaming of a world where words are not used to make unalterable doctrines that fill people’s hearts with fear, hatred and blind idolatry. And that’s why I am posting a painting along with words… because I wish sometimes people, including me, could simply just see.