Thursday, 29 March 2018

Shadows and Light: Positive connotations to negative connotations

My Shadows and Light project leads to a medium much more familiar to me: words.

 The Diction Switch up stage, the third in the series, involves changing a section of writing so that words with positive connotations are replaced with synonyms with negative or "tragic" connotations.

A connotation is a meaning of a word that implies or suggests an attitude or moral stance, as opposed to the denotation of a word, which is more like a dictionary definition. For example, a woman can be a lady, a broad, a dame, a dyke, a wife, a harlot, a female, a mother. Although these terms have a similar referent (a female human) at their cores, some of these words have positive associations, while others have negative associations, while others have neutral or mixed (both, either/or) connotations depending on the context and on the speaker or audience. The exercise asks not to substitute entirely new denotations of a word but instead to switch to a word with the same general denotation but with negative connotations.

I am choosing two origin texts: one is someone else's writing, and the other is mine. For the exericse to work, the words in the original must already lean towards having positive denotations and connotations, or else the switch will not be noticeable. Finding phrases with positively denotated words is not that hard when it comes to someone else's writing: some many good poets write about more or less happy topics. The hard part is my own writing, since I am not prone to avoiding ideas and words with negative connotations.

 I. Poem by Another Writer

Original: "Upon Julia's Clothes" by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)

When as in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (me thinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!

My notes:

I aspired to keep the basic sense but also the meter and rhyme scheme--iambic tetrameter in rhyming triplets--but I decided to allow myself to deviate as I desired from the language and culture of a seventeenth century Devonshire vicar, such as Herrick was.

Revision: Julia in Shadows

When in burlap my Julia flees,
Then (I brood) how achingly speeds
The transformation of her guise.

Later, when I wince at the futility
of her swings at fate, the memory
of her glares steals peace from me.

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