Tuesday, January 24, 2012



Impressions of people
I have never met
when they touch and connect
with my heart
I am moved by
what leaves an impression.


Key: matter in square brackets is the etymology.
ME = Middle English, MF=Middle French, OE=Old English, ON=Old Norse, L=Latin, OHG=Old High German, Gk=Greek. G=German, Hitt=Hittite, Russ=Russian, VL=Vulgar Latin
Etymology: the history of a linguistic form (as a word)

Impressions: [ME, impressen, from L impressus, pp. of imprimere from in- + premere to press] syn see IDEA

Of: [ME, off, of from OE; akin to OHG aba off, away, L ab from away, Gk apo] used as a function word to indicate a point of reckoning.

People: [ME, peple, from OF peuple, from L poplus]

I: [ME from OE ic; L and Gk ego, Hitt uk, G ich, Russ ja] one who is speaking or writing

Have: [ME haven from OE habben; haven to lift (see heave)] to hold in possession as property

Never: [ME from OE næfre from ne not + æfre ever] at no time, degree, under any condition

Met: past tense of Meet: [ME meten from OE metan akin to OHG muoz meeting] join, find contact, conjunction with another direction

When: [ME from OE hwanna, hwenne} just at the moment

They: [ME from ON their] people, used in a generic sense. characteristic of a whole group

Touch: [ME touchen, VL toccare to knock, strike a bell

And: [ME from OEakin to OHG unti] indicate connection or addition

Connect: [L conectere, connectere, from com- + nectere to bind]

With: [ ME, against, from, with, from OE akin to OE wither against} comparison or equality

My: [ akin to OE me ]

Heart: [ ME hert from OE heorte akin to OHG herza, L cord, cor-, Gk kardia] (1.) muscular organ, (2.) playing card, (3.) whole personality (4.),\ the emotional or moral not the intellectual

I: [ME from OE ic; L and Gk ego, Hitt uk, G ich, Russ ja] one who is speaking or writing

Am: [ ME from OE eom akin to ON em am, L sum, Gk eimi]

Moved: [ ME moven from MF monvoir]

By: [ME from OE, akin to OHG bi, near. L ambi- on both sides, around, Gk amphi]

What: [ME from OE hwaet, ] as adj. expressing inquiry about the identity, nature, or value

Leaves: [ME leven from OE laefan akin to OHG version of leiben to leave, OE be lifan to be left over]

An: [ME from OE an one}

Impression:[ME, impressen, from L impressus, pp. of imprimere from in- + premere to press]

Note: Thus poem hinges on different meanings for the word impression. Also in a number of words there is a choice between a material meaning and a meaning that describes relational situations. I think in each case it is the relational emotive form that is used, example “moved” Not physically moved but emotionally moved. “Heart” not the muscular organ but the emotional or moral encounter

Meanings of impression:

1.) Stamping or pressing

2.) Imprint of the teeth used in dentistry

3.) Marked influence or effect on feeling, sense, or mind

4.) A single print or copy made through meeting of inked printing surface and the material being printed

5.) A usually indistinct or imprecise notion or remembrance

6.) An imitation of salient features in an artistic or theatrical medium

I wrote the poem to use meaning (1.) in line one and meaning (3.) in the last line.
Alternatively the last line could be meaning (5.)
or the poem could be stood on its head and the meaning for the first line could be (3.)
and the last line (1.)


impressions of people

noiseless shadows,

tickle my mind.

never met

but do not doubt

their existence.

just at the moment

they touch they bind

my heart

moved by what

leaves an impression.

printed into blank surface

poetry inked & stamp; pressed

words from another language

January 14, 2012
Elsmere, New York

Strangely enough this poem now describes the experience of making it. The way words from another person in a poem are also words from another language, from another people and both the person’s words and the people’s words make their impression. If read with enough force, a deep impelling stamp, not a brush of chalk to be quickly erased. The reading of the poem is perhaps the mechanism, the printing press itself, which doesn’t get mentioned in this poem.

I did this work as assignment for a writing workshop I am taking with Bernadette Mayer. The assignment was to take a poem and research every word. Then rewrite the poem.

----- Alan Casline