e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Light on the subject – but what kind?

Today I logged into Wordnik for the first time in many months. As you can guess, if you don’t already know it, Wordnik is about words – finding, gathering, listing, sharing, commenting.

Browsing through my collection I was reminded of the words I’d garnered in the past, including one of my favourites: lucubratory. This word has two meanings that may of may not be related. One is laborious or painstaking. The other is much more poetic; composed by candlelight or by night or pertaining to night studies.

A special word for composed by candlelight!candle-197248__180

I imagine an old-time sage painstakingly writing out poems or music (or both – maybe he’s a singer/songwriter) by the light of a guttering and smelly candle; which is all he can afford until people recognise his genius and reward him accordingly. Preferably while he’s still around to enjoy it.

Are there words for composed by torchlight or electric-light? Do we need them?

Composed by moonlight is a beautiful thought: shall we call it lunabratory?  I suspect even a determined sage would find it difficult to see well enough by the moon alone.

Perhaps fairies compose by firefly light, and mermaids by deep-sea squid light.

On a more serious note, is writing or composing affected by the kind of light used? Do candles encourage the romantic and halogen the aggressive? I think it likely to have an effect, but I also think it would be both individual and very subtle.

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