This week’s words:Whimper, White, Warren, Worm.
To whimper is to utter a feeble, intermittent cry expressing fear, pain, or distress; to complain or cry. It’s a useful onomatopoeia, as it instantly conjures an image of either weakness or vulnerability. It can, of course, be applied to inanimate objects as well as to the more common use describing the actions of humans and or animals. We talk of wild weather reducing to a whimper after a storm, of the final whimper of a dying avalanche, etc. ‘At the closing of the climate catastrophe initiated by careless mankind, humanity expired with a whimper.’
Simile: White as a ghost
Ever seen a ghost? Was it white? When I was 16, I witnessed an inexplicable visual phenomenon in a large building that was reputedly haunted. What I think I saw was a shifting shape, dark in colour and apparently insubstantial in form. I didn’t hang around to greet it as it moved, apparently unsupported a short way off the floor of the long corridor, toward me in the dead of night. I moved to the relative security of the well populated barrack where I lived as an apprentice in the armed forces. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t white. I, on the other hand, may well have been as I moved back into the room! The other lads were all asleep, so none of them could comment.
Perhaps there are better similes for ‘white’. The common ‘snow’ and ‘sheet’ have their own deficiencies and may be best avoided. But is there something more appropriate we can use? Perhaps ‘paper white’, ‘white as a snowdrop’, ‘white as a summer cloud’, ‘white as a pure soul’? Can you think of something?
It occurs to me, belatedly in this series, that I may have given undue emphasis to the accuracy of similes; remember, in poetry and poetic prose, we’re aiming for an impression, a feeling, something with which readers can empathise, so mood, tone and impression are more important than mere accuracy.
Similes to avoid because they’re clichés?
as white as a sheet
as white as snow
Collective Nouns: Warren of rabbits
Warren is also applied to hares and, alliteratively, wombats. A warren is a complex of tunnels used as living space, but also designed to confuse intruders and provide a safe place to hide. Can you think of any other group where ‘warren’ might make a good collective noun?
Delusional Dictionary: Worm: an inadequate male member; any squirming unwanted individual attempting to gain access to a person or place; a coward; someone who, usually inadvertently, encourages others to step on them.
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