Thursday, July 12, 2007


There's been a lot of change in my life lately and the other day I was talking with a friend about how external change can really cause a change throughout. I shared with her that the older I get (and certainly after becoming a mother), I was trying to shed some of my harsher edges and become....what's the word?....I couldn't find the right one, so I just said, "sweet." I hate the saccharine connotation of the word, but for some reason it seemed the right adjective to choose.

Nearly days later, and right on cue, as books have always been with me, I was reading Michael Pollan's
The Botany of Desire and found this beautiful paragraph. It took my breath away when I read it, as it completely captured what I was trying to express to my friend. To share:

Sweetness is a desire that starts on the tongue with the sense of taste, but it doesn't end there. Or at least it didn't end there, back when the experience of sweetness was so special that the word served as a metaphor for a certain kind of perfection. When writers like Jonathan Swift and Matthew Arnold used the expression "sweetness and light" to name their highest ideal (Swift called them the "two noblest of things"; Arnold, the ultimate aim of civilization), they were drawing on a sense of the word sweetness going back to classical times, a sense that has largely been lost to us. The best land was said to be sweet; so were the most pleasing sounds, the most persuasive talk, the loveliest views, the most refined people, and the choicest part of any whole, as when Shakespeare calls spring the "sweet o' the year." Lent by the tongue to all the other sense organs, "sweet," in the somewhat archaic definition of the Oxford English Dictionary, is that which "affords enjoyment or gratifies desire." Like a shimmering equal sign, the word sweetness denoted a reality commensurate with human desire: it stood for fulfillment.

Perfect. Beautiful. Sweet.


Galadriel Thompson said...

You should have seen me before babies. All hard edges and snarls.

Sew Succulent said...

G -

That's not very Indian Princess of you! ;-)


Galadriel Thompson said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha!