The main text of Alcoholics Anonymous concludes in this way:
"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and keep you - until then."
The American experience of English as it is spoken shows some common things. One of the errors that can easily persist is the substituting of one two letter word for another. "Of" and "to" seem interchangeable in phrases like "the Road of Happy Destiny" but the actual meaning of the phrase shifts in a remarkable way. Hence this poem:
The Road Of Happy Destiny
or, This Is It
The violet strap
falls across my rump as if
to stripe me, mark me
with your discipline,
make me read this book again,
focus on little
two letter words, "of",
not "to" as I trudge the road.
It's the road "of" I
trudge, (I read) not the road "to" -
what a difference.
February 27, 2011 9:24 PM
I was taught this by my old friend David. David was taught this by his wife, who was a second grade school teacher when she realized the importance of two letter words. It seems I would do well to remember what I learned in second grade more often.
Some years ago my poetry took on a mythic flavor and I became a character in my own poems, a mage, "the man of the Northern Wall". This apellation is not completely fictional. My middle name is Noordwal, a Dutch term for north wall, though in current Dutch it mainly means north bank as in riverbank. I was told that an ancestor, a Portugese Jew escaping the Inquisition, settled in a small Dutch town and took this name from where he settled, near the north wall of the town. I have thought for a long time that -wal meant wall, think my mother told me that. A linguist might say that my usage is no longer common, is an older usage, but then the Inquisition happened in Portugal a few centuries ago, right around the time the Moors lost control of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews lost the modest protection given them by Islam. Now I write as this mage, my poetry persona.