Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Limpid Path

Here comes a complex post. You guys speak of favorites among my poems. I have my own of course. This poem is one of them.

This word Limpid is one of my favorite words. I also love the etymological thread of the word limpid. Limpid is related to lymph and through lymph to nymph and to nuptial. Limpid means clear and serene as in a limpid pool, but also as in a limpid style of writing. Lymph once meant pure and clear water, and then the sap in plants, and now the colorless off white fluid similar to the plasma of blood but filled with the substances and the white cells of the immune system.

Nuptial is related to wedding and to the primary point of wedding which is procreation, and thus as a fluid would be the potent sexual fluids. To say Nuptial Fluids might be unusual but would be obvious. This is a bonding of light as in how it passes best through transparency and sex. The sexual light might be an unusually clear light that can penetrate deeply and change things.

This word complex also demonstrates several linguistic substitution rules. The L of limpid is similar to the N of nuptial. Notice in sounding the L and the N, that the position of the tongue in the mouth demonstrates this similarity. The I and the Y and the U are related this way too. The MP in Limpid is the MPH in Lymph and Nymph, is the PTI (pch) in Nuptial. The MP takes the closed lips of M and adds the plosive of P. This is transformed to the fricative F in MPH. Finally the M is dropped, leaving the plosive P joined with the soft CH sound spelled ti in Nuptial. These transforms are all "legal" and commonly used in linguistics to trace the evolution of a language.

Finally, while Limpid comes through French from Latin, Limpa or Lumpa (water), alternatively Lympha, all of this is a modification of earlier Greek Nymphe. A nymph is a semi divine figure evoking the rise of life fluids in men and women both and also meant bride. Nymph is also connected to feminine sexual parts, the labia minora, which are also called the nymphae, nymph in plural latin form. The labia minora are the inner lips of the vulva.

Wow. It is this kind of connection which reveals the wisdom inherent in language, why it is there is magic in words, even when you don’t know it. This is one rich example of the interconnections, clarity with light and with water and with life fluids and with sexual bonding, and the very gate of love. Using limpid brings this all to the sentence, to the poem.

Before getting to the poem itself, I want to add something written by Natalie Goldberg.

The Importance of Illusions

In the beginning, our illusions are important. In some ways, those illusions bring us to practice. Hopefully, in the process of practicing, we wake up to how things really are. But it's not bad to have some dreams at the beginning. When I started writing, I didn't know what it was to be a writer. I didn't know what basic hard work it is. But my dream to be a writer brought me along, and then I met the task.

In betrayal and in failure, there are some real jewels. But wouldn't we much rather have a relationship in which we mature slowly? For instance, isn't it better to have a relationship with your parents in which you grow up and move away from them in a natural and beautiful way? Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. And in spiritual communities, it doesn't always happen, either. So what do we do? We take what is in front of us and wake up from it.

- Natalie Goldberg from "Beyond Betrayal", Tricycle, The Buddhist Review (Spring, 2005)

The word Limpid evokes the kind of clarity Natalie writes about.

The Limpid Path

At a loss for words
about the broken winged
bird who flew away
except to say one
small word of true love above
all others set free
to fly after her
along the limpid path still
high above her pain.

March 21, 2009 9:33 PM


  1. I like this limpid path :)
    Everything you write about it.
    I always like the idea that at any point we have infinite choices, you explore quite a few here, all to make it more...limpid, maybe.
    And i also like it that you talk about sex :)

  2. Interconnected...indeed....exactly ...and with beauty interwoven among these threads of connection
    I love the feelings this piece brings to there an ultimate spiritual. I think so

  3. I like the way your poems are like little clear - limpid even! - jewels in the complex setting of your preamble.

    I remember my would-be poetical uncle talking about poetic cliches, and a picture he had seen of a woman who was composed of literal representations of such similes, so she had 'hair like thistledown', 'breasts like doves' 'lips like rose petals' and 'eyes like limpid pools with stars in them'. She was a quite grotesque creature!

    'Limpid' pools always make me think, though, of pools, the seashore kind, with limpets in! 'Limpet' apparently comes from a quite different etymological root, however, and has nothing to do with clear fluids or nymphs. But still, the image of clear warm rockpools with curious shellfish and other beautiful and fascinating things living in them, is still a pleasant one.

  4. Jozien, maybe the word is "many" or "indeterminate", surely not infinite choices at every point. I am reminded of the preliterate societies and how they do not need precise accounting. At some point in the counting number stops being a quantity and becomes "too many to count". I see infinite used in this way often. It's synonym is often something like "gazillion".

    Many of my poems can be read as erotic by my estimation, but perhaps not overtly sexual. :)

    Love you.

    Linda, you didn't finish your rhetorical question quite, so I have to guess. I do think there is a spiritual tapestry behind language. Language is far older than prehistory. It disappears in the mists.

    The arguments among the specialists center on if it is even possible for humans to begin to have their peculiarly human form of social grouping without language. Language is arguably older than we are. When it appears in the historical record it is as sophisticated as it is today. No one who studies language thinks that language is increasing in complexity. Quite the reverse. As languages rub up together as they do in the modern world many complexities of language are lost. Languages become more similar to each other.

    The *click* languages are considerred the most ancient languages represented on earth today, such as those used by the hunter gatherers in the Kalahari. They are also the most difficult and complex, at least as spoken.

    The varieties of language are dying out as native speakers join up with mainstream civilization.

    So language is fully complex no matter how far back we look, even more complex. The further back we look, humans have always been fully religious and spiritual creatures. It is a manifestation of only the last few hundred years that some men and women can decide for a fully non spiritual lifestyle. Language has always been sacred territory.

    Lucy, I think I may have seen that picture your uncle told to you. Anyway, I remember something. I have never understood some cliches about women, especially biblical ones. I am happy that your seashore pools have appeared. Limpet seems to come from OE, Old English and relates to lamprey. It is really common for things like food items and other nouns local to an area to retain in the original language of the area, rather than be imported from another language.

    One inheritance of mine is from an old friend, a library sized Webster's Third New International unabriged dictionary. American :) It has etymology through and through. 'Tis my delight. I have taken courses in linguistics, enough to read the dictionary etymologies easily. This dictionary really demands it's own pedestal. Another beautiful part of it is the way they trace usage so that a word like "strike" may take up nearly a whole page to get all the senses in which it is used. It turns out these words are most often original to the native language, thus unchanged and oldest, and in English are irregular, meaning actually regular holdovers from an ancient form of language no longer used. In the case of strike as a verb, not *striked* but *struck* or *stricken*. How did that "c" get in there?

  5. (On cliches: this is why Shakespeare had Sonnet 130, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun", because if they were, he'd be burned to a crisp. :)

    You're totally titillating my linguistics-grad-student self here. Without getting into the ins and outs of historical linguistics, because if I start I might not stop, I'll just say that I'm thrilled by these discussions and thoughts. People don't pay enough attention to the mysteries of language!

    Anyway, I think you've applied those paths of thought excellently in this one. And I'm right chuffed that you included a passage from Natalie Goldberg; she was the first author-about-authoring I ever read.

  6. When two people agree in a learned way about a subject they are either both right or both full of *bullspit*.

    My linguistics comes from The Teaching Company, a clever group who have made a living offering college level courses for entertainment purposes for those of us who decide to "audit" those courses without going to a campus to do it. They cost about the same as a cheap community college, one course at a time. I have done several in music and philosophy and science and linguistics. I can't recommend them more highly for basic learning in elevated fields. If you want a solid foundation in quantum mechanics without the math, here's the place to go.

  7. Since I have an affinity for winged creatures, I felt her pain and her beauty.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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