How do I love? It’s impossible, I reckon, to count the ways.
Here’s a selection in no particular order: I love Mr G, daydreaming, pokey cheese, when my sister phones, my real world friends and many of my imaginary ones, skylarks and grey herons, the first sip of the second glass, jumping and/or bouncing about, to be beside the seaside, obsolete words, made-up words, clean sheets of literal and metaphorical varieties, Gonzo, jaw-dropping first lines, making Mum laugh, bluebell woods, the week before Christmas, strong tea, winning at Scrabble unless I cheated, watching incense smoke, windy days, dresses with unlikely prints, the kindness of strangers and the existence of the universe.
One word for all these emotions and you understand the differences between them. Yowzer, right?
Some of those there people have said that love is an overused word. On the contrary, I’m delighted if it pops up all over the place. I love to love.
But, when I’m writing, I’m trying to find the right words, and opting for 'love', noun or verb, feels like I'm just not trying hard enough.
'The Eskimo has fifty-two names for snow because it is important to them; there ought to be as many for love.' Margaret Atwood
Depending on how you ask, the Ancient Greeks had between 3 and 8 words for love. Tamil has 50, Persian 80, and Sanskrit 96. Mr Google has oodles of lists of words for exotic loved-up states which don’t translate into English.
Off into studyland I went, searching, looking for love. But I didn’t find another word as good as it. Perhaps it’s not them, it’s me.
'The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.' Mark Twain
I normally only go to The Urban Dictionary to translate younger people. It offered loke, which is somewhere between like and love and probably a mythical place. Vivlamore means to live for love and is something I might have said once by accident when drunk. Drop the 3, means to confess one’s love, and I promise never to utter it.
My 1930s dictionary gave me 1930s love: regard, fondness, devotion, affection, yearning, desire, passion, partiality, predilection. They don’t quite do, darling.
At last, my esteemed 1850s thesaurus suggested words one might share in private, but blush at showing off in public:
hankering – an importunate longing (which I like as much for the definition as anything else)
cupidity – an inordinate desire to possess
concupiscence – excessive lust
concupiscible – exciting concupiscence
drouthy - thirsting
agog – in a state of eager anticipation, astir
mansuete – tamed
fondling – a person or thing fondled
And so I find myself choosing to write the word love. Perhaps the perfect word for feelings that are tricksy to analyse, and that we never experience in the same way twice, is a word that can mean whatever the reader wants it to.
'The Encyclopedia Galactica, in its chapter on Love states that it is far too complicated to define. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of love: "Avoid, if at all possible."' Douglas Adams
Thanks to Mr G for this image and making the word even bigger.
The automaton pictured is 'An Allegory of Love' by Paul Spooner.