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Word Pictures

( Originally Published 1916 )

TRY to realize words, especially the strong, vital words.

One way to do this is to create by your imagination a picture that shall express the word. Make your own cinematograph show. Learn how to entertain yourself a little by your own fancy and you will not be so helpless—dependent upon other people and outside things for amusement.

Here are some hints. Start from them and create your own scenes.

STRENGTH. A strong man ploughing. His face is ruddy, smiling, vigorous. His hair is crisp, his eyes blue and clear. Sleeves uprolled and collar downturned display his healthy skin. He is pausing for a moment's rest, his hand upon the plough. His two huge Norman horses stand, deep breathing, ready, docile. Watch that man work.

POWER. You stand at a little way station in the country. The lightning express goes by. You hear its owl-like hoot in the distance, see its headlight miles away as a dim star; it approaches, whirls past with crash and shriek as of a thousand giants. There is a blur of light, there are streams of sparks, a whirlwind of smoke, and it is gone; soon you hear its owl-hoot again in the distance. Power !

DOMINION. A big, helpful word, to get one's soul out of the swamps of pettiness. See Gibraltar, huge, impregnable, cannon-pierced, dominating all about.

PEACE. A summer lake. Sheep asleep in a meadow. Motionless trees. A soft half-moon silvering all with a veil of mystery. A house, dark, with drawn blinds.

WISDOM. Recall Michael Angelo's "Moses." Let this statute rise before you, massive, majestical. Wonder what those lips might say if, as the artist once commanded, it should "speak."

HOPE. Dawn. A rising sun, just peeping above the hill. Apple blossoms budding. Fuzzy little chickens running about. The red cock crowing. A young girl dressed in white standing at the open door of a cottage, her eyes smiling.

And jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

FAITH. A long wedge-line of wild geese flying northward on a spring night. You hear their honk honk dropping from the vague dimness above. A sailing boat drawing toward port, yet out of sight of land; a pilot with his eye on the compass and his hand upon the wheel. A farmer planting seed, covering them up, and going away. Strength, power, dominion, peace, wisdom, hope, faith.

Let us get the habit of thinking these things, of picturing them.

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
And foolish notion.

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