Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Whatsoever Things Are Lovely

I've been in a quandary the past few days, trying to find a substitute for the word lovely.

There is certainly nothing wrong with the word. In fact, so much about it is right -- the way it sounds, the way it looks, the way it flows before and after the other words in my poem -- that I used it two times, only a few stanzas apart. Only later did I realize this redundancy, and knew that I, as a poet, must replace one of them with another suitable perfect word.

This week, as I have been in conversation, listened to the radio or watched TV, read some fine poetry, perused the paper and the mail, I've been on the lookout, but to no avail. A thesaurus, you say? A few literary works? The dictionary?  No luck. Not yet. Oh -- the struggles of an artist! We suffer those who suppose a masterpiece could be so easy.

I used to think of lovely as a rather general term, but it has served its purpose rather well. Consider:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But, ah, my foes, and oh, my friends --
It gives a lovely light.
Edna St. Vincent Millay

The rainbow comes and goes
And lovely is the rose.
Willliam Wordsworth

He is made one with Nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder to the song of night's sweet bird.
He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely.
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely, and more temperate.

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.
Joyce Kilmer

Whatsover things are true, whatsover things are honest,
Whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report;
If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
The Holy Bible

So I'll keep looking. I'll find another word. But will it (can it possibly) be as lovely?

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