Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Limpid Path, a reprise

Originally posted January 23, 2010. I reprise because I am so fond of this poem, so fond of the word limpid, and so fond of the linguistics and etymology I was able to display, to show how rich these disciplines can be with certain words.

"The Dechainee" by Melanie Delon - one more from Melanie. Dechainee-seems to mean "to be the one to lift or exalt through passion."

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. While limpid basically means "clear", see how much would be lost if that word was chosen over limpid.

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. limpid is one those words i really love too...
    and this poem is also so limpid... so light!

    the last line ends this poem with a magical sense...

  2. I can see why this would be a favourite poem. Limpid is indeed a beautiful word whose connotations are inherent in its sound, I think.

  3. Yes, the sound is important, but to me the sound does not connote clarity but more the opalescence found in the stone itself. Thus I am a little surprised by the word when I recall the correct meaning of it as utterly transparent.


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