Thursday, January 18, 2007

On a Dark and Stormy Night

Learned a new word last night, snuggled up on my high spool bed with a comforter and a little dog across my ankles. A golden pool of lamplight across my book. The black mirror of the window guarding against the cold.


Thought to be from the Latin and originally onomatopoeic.

susurrus - a whispering.

I was reading David Drake's Lt. Leary Commanding - a space opera, I suppose it's called - with fascinating engagements, some interesting descriptions of the Matrix (as a term for space travel) and also some vivid minor characters.

Quote: So many people in a single room couldn't really be silent - their breathing alone was a deep susurrus like that of a sleeping dragon.

That's a rotten simile, by the way, I think allusions and such should sustain the tone and theme, and there is nothing of that sort of fantasy in the story. I'm happy to say his other imagery is compatible with his setting.

Susurrus. A whispering.
The wind can be like that in winter.
Voices caught out of the dark and the cold, when you pause for a moment to listen beneath the meager shelter of bare branches.
Like the distant growls of northering beasts, like the sibilance of snow wraiths. Coming.
When the wind whispers in winter, one almost believes in dimensions.
In hunger.


December Quinn said...

Poetic, lovely, and true, but considering we're having gale force winds here today, the wind is less like a whisper and more like a scream.

Bernita said...

Clawing at the door, December!

December Quinn said...

It certainly is. The wind here isn't shy.

writtenwyrdd said...

You mean I knew a word you didn't? (gasp of shock) Onomotopoeic words are the best! Sussurus is one of my favs. It always makes me think of those days snowshoeing in the woods during a snowfall. The sifting sound the crystals make as they land is that petal soft noise that I think of as a sussurus.

Or a beach, heard distantly. Whatever, lol.

Bernita said...

Banshee wind, December.

Written, there are lots and LOTS of words I don't know.

Bailey Stewart said...

My writing isn't poetic enough for wonderful words like sussurus.

Because of the ice, the sounds we're hearing around here are more like crashes and bangs.

Ric said...

In this modern world, does it ever get quiet enough to hear whispering?

Is it Friday yet? Can we talk about sex?

That's what I love about this blog - I always learn something from Bernita - a new word - one which I will remember because of the poetic way you presented it.

Jaye Wells said...

Oh that's a great word, Bernita. Thanks for sharing.

jason evans said...

Beautiful writing, Bernita. *sigh* I almost reached for a blanket. You captured that feel extremely well.

Bernita said...

I know that sound, Bailey - from the Storm of '98 - ice crashing like a dead predator, releasing its prey.I hurt for the trees.

Out here in the boonies it does, Ric.
Always glad to share.

With all apologies to Written, Jaye, I don't think I like it. The "sound" is good, but visually - as on a page - to me it "looks" wrong.

Bernita said...

Nice to see you, Jason. Thank you.

anna said...

I only wish for a susurrus wind on this damn forsaken island
lovely word Bernita
lovely post

raine said...

New word for me.
I think I'll adopt it. :-)
And lovely imagery, as always, Bernita.

Savannah Jordan said...

WooHoo! A new word, right up my alley. And lovely images you've given to paint a fuller picture of the words nuances.

Thank you Bernita!

Not much wind, here, but we have snow--actually looks like winter now. *yucky*

Bernita said...

Oh Anna!
Winter is harsh and lonely at times. Islands seem to float away from the mainland in winter, their hawsers ice-dipped and stiff as fangs...maybe you just need to read the "Anne" books again?
Thank you.

Thank you, Raine.
The more I look at the word, the better I like it.Might have been the way it was stuck in the sentence that I didn't like at first.

Could do with a "sirocco" here about now.

Anonymous said...

Hardly a day goes by that I don't learn a new word, and promptly forget it. Now that I think about it, that's probably why I learn a new word every day. Heck, it could be the same word over and over!

Seriously, beautiful verbiage, bernita. -JTC

Bonnie Calhoun said...

That was really lovely...but I must confess the one thing in the post that gave me a visual was "...high spool bed"...LOL

And that was only because of the words 'high spool'. My husband has a 'sanctuary' up in our woods. He has a couch, chairs, and a spool table. Well in the last two weeks our garage has become the staging area for 4 more humongous spools, piled two high!

I ask him if he was starting a restaurant up there :-)

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah.
~ grumps~
I had to shovel the stuff this morning.

Bernita said...

Hee, thank you, J!

Seems some of us never outgrow our need for our "kid's forts," Bonnie!
My bed's not that kind of spool though. It's over a hundred years old.

No Hassle Loans said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spyscribbler said...

Ohmigosh, that word is orgasmic. (And I rarely joke about sex.) I can tell, by the way I'm just dying to use that word, that it's one of the words people will curse you for using, isn't it?

As you (I'm pretty sure it was you!) obsserved some time ago, god forbid if a reader has to run to a dictionary, LOL.

Bernita said...

Orgasmic? Oh. Dear.
Suddenly, I have different images in my head!
Yep, Spy.
I did blog about it here, but other posters have also had incidents.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...I know...I've seen antique spool just made me think of Bob!

Actually it was my great-aunt...she had one when I was young!

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Susurrus, hmm? That’s a new one for me. It sounds like a kid trying to pronounce thesaurus. ;-)

Gabriele C. said...

I knew susurrus (Latin and Italian are quite useful sometimes) but right now it's someone opened Aeolus' bag weather here.

Rashenbo said...

Now that is an awesome word and new for me as well. Thank you for sharing it. :D

Gabriele C. said...

Btw, is Drake's SciFi stuff good? Because his Lord of the Isles drags quite a bit and I keep putting it aside for more interesting reads, partly due to the fact I know there will be no final soulution since there are 7 or 8 books in the series, and I'm so not going to read more of them.

Bernita said...

We had to extend the sideboards, Bonnie, a modern mattress was too long.

Made me think of clouds, Daisy.

Unusual words are interesting, Rashenbo.

My Latin is on the basic, meager side, Gabriele.
Yes, I found that series dragged, too.Only read a couple.
This is the only one I've read of his SF, but I liked it (especially his unemotional heroine and her sociopathic bodyguard) and have an order in for a couple more, one in his Hammer Slammer series.

Tattieheid said...

I find a lot of "new" words on this Blog and am often reminded of many I had forgotten. It's always a pleasurable experience.

I spent many years restoring antiques, furniture and other items for a living. Lost count of how many beds I've extended. Sometimes I miss it and an old piece will whisper to me, "Look into your heart, see me in all my beauty."

Old furniture can be very beguiling.

Stewart Sternberg said...

"When the wind whispers in winter.." sounds like a great opening line:

"When the wind whispers in winter, and the nights refuse to completely surrender to the dawn, the people of the mountain know better than to stray far from their homes..."

I'm sorry. Couldn't resist. I love your wordplay. That description of being in bed, cozy and reading...perfect.

I think Susurrus is the name of a magazine as well.

Shesawriter said...


I can't imagine using that word in a sentence.


It's creepy.

Steve G said...

The wind in Germany wasn't whispering last night, it was screaming. It has diminished, but the rain it brought is falling.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Tattieheid.
Old pieces do that, don't they? They say "I am imprisoned - free me!"

"Couldn't resist."
Words have power like a spell, Stewart - and you are half-enchanted by this one already!
Thank you.

Hmmm. Another set of images, Tanya. Yes, it could be...

Like December's weather, I take it, Steve.