Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Quote of the day

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' in full bloom, its sweet scent carrying through the endless drops of rain.
Words are things, and a small drop of ink,
falling like dew upon a thought,
produces that which makes thousands,
perhaps millions, think.

- Lord Byron, from Don Juan, Canto III, 1820 -

No, I am not a great lover of writers of the Romantic era; I don't think I have even read Lord Byron's version of the legend of Don Juan. But this wonderful quote came up last week at a writers course I am taking, trying to figure out if I can ever be good enough to 'really' write in English, now my third language. 'A small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought...', such a perfect metaphor for the process of writing. They say that all writing is translating, turning your thoughts into symbols on paper; writing in a foreign language adds still another dimension, as there are so many meanings that each word carry, not obvious to someone like me, who didn't grow up with the language. Seeking the right words takes time, and sometimes the small drop of ink evaporates, like a dew drop in the morning sun, taking my thoughts with it before they reach the paper.


Meredith said...

Food for thought, beautiful photo, too. :)

I don't envy you your task of writing in a third language. Even when I felt quite comfortable speaking and living in a second language, writing in the adopted language was still painful to me, perhaps because I love to write.

It was a bit like blindfolding myself and having my hands tied behind my back and trying to write with a piece of sidewalk chalk clasped between my toes...

Karen said...

Your 'Jelena' with raindrops is perfect, and you are a better writer in your 3rd lingua than most of us will ever be in our first!