A bit of gafufferal: ‘Once they leave the lips, Words in the Wind are less than a Will o’the Wisp’
Les mots qui sont partis sou le vent comme une volonté du feu follet
Verba in ventum
Homer’s poetry was originally composed as words to be recited not written. It is now generally agreed that the Illiad was first written down in the 8th century BC. Those who date the Trojan War, generally agree that it took place in the 11th or 12th century BC. This means that the poetry that became the Illiad was developing for three or four hundred years before it took definite form.
During this time the words of the Illiad were verba in ventum, words in the wind that ever changed depending on the speaker, the place, and the moment.
I suppose to be fair and accurate, I should use the Greek λέξεις στον άνεμο, rather than the Latin. The Greeks do not have a direct saying for words in the wind, but they do have όπου φυσάει ο άνεμος, which translates as “where the wind blows” which implies that our views and positions depend on prevailing interests or views.
Did Homer exist?
Was he one individual or a collective composition of the musings of dozens or hundreds of poets who appeared in Greek City States and entertained the citizens with stories of long ago?
Was he a Will o’the Wisp, divine and inspired?
I have toiled over this line in the Illiad. It deals with Agamemnon, son of Atreus, leader of the Greeks, who contemplates the campaign against the Trojans in pursuit of Helen, his brother’s wife.
Late as I slumber’d in the shades of night,
A dream divine appear’d before my sight;
Homer explains, it was a phantom, a will o’the wisp that appeared o’er his head and said:
‘And, dost thou sleep, O son of Atreus?
Ill befits a chief who mighty nations guides,
In council directs and war presides;
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.’
Something borrowed something blue
All of this gafufferal leads me to the conclusion that words belong to no one. They are part of the collective common, like the air, used as we wish, borrowed, then replaced to be used again and again. They are blue or yellow or red or green depending on our mood, meant to color the world and create images from words.
Gafufferal, I repeat. It is a made up word, as all words are, and if used enough, some day it may be written down and become part of the collective.