Monday, March 16, 2015

Word of the Week - 54

Walt Whitman

Word of the Week:  CONTAIN

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

The word "contain" takes me in so many directions.  At first I thought of the likelihood that others who fancy pens and notebooks, as I do, are also drawn to things that hold other things.  If we have pencils, we need a pencil box.  If we have color pencils, we need an array of easy-to-access storage in which to sort them into color families, types, manufacturers.  There is pleasure, for some of us, in winnowing them into smaller and smaller categories, like biological classifications: class, order, genus, species, and variety.
A version of my back-to-school favorite giant pencil.
Then I thought, "I can't contain myself," to describe a state of such heightened excitement that we start to overflow our banks.  Containing one's self or the attempt to do so may fall into the category of overrated actions.  I have probably mentioned before my aunt's comment when asked about a comedy film she'd just seen.  "It was so funny I could hardly keep from laughing."  Decorum.  I'm not so sure.

Among us pen types, I suspect that old luggage is a favorite, right up there with cigar boxes.  It is the odd but not uncommon heart which rejoices at a stack of vintage suitcases.  And where else to keep real treasures but a cigar box.  Literature supports this truth.
Jem Finch's cigar box from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (Thank you, Bobby Rivers TV.)
I like hard copies of things, an address book full of crossed-out, rewritten entries, scrap paper notes, torn envelopes, held closed with a rubber band.  Because my father kept files of things like clippings, correspondence, carbons of his stories, I am lured by file folders and file cabinets.  I grew to adulthood working in offices, filing.  The emphatic sound of a metal file draw sliding shut will never be mistaken for anything else.
From Staples.
Containers' delight.
I have tried, without success, even consulting my poetry angel, to find the source of a poem I think I remember from a high school or junior college class in the 60s about how bag people go looking for bags, box people go looking for boxes.  Having fallen short of that goal, here is a bit more Whitman, wiser than many men.  I think this is so lovely.  Contained by time.

No comments: