During the past week or so, some days, the weather has matched my mood of late, melancholy. Many of the days were overcast, neither hot nor cold and perfect for wiling away or sleeping the day away. As I have much of the past few days, I choose to succumb to the latter. Before doing so, the word “melancholy” brings me back to younger days.
Since elementary school, I have had an intense fascination with the word melancholy. I had two favorite words then, “lucrative” and “melancholy.” In hindsight, “lucrative” was future economic wealth to a child from a single-parent home with a mother working furiously to raise, clothe and feed 4. “Melancholy,” however, was then and is now, enticing by its own right–at least to me. It is a beautiful word and I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I ached to use it in a sentence but my 10 year old attempts were always feeble, even to me.
My fascination and intrigue with the word grew, as did my puzzlement as to its true meaning. Scholar I am not, so I embarked on a brief internet search that might answer my questions. Webster’s on-line dictionary defines “melancholy” as follows:
1. Depression of spirits; a gloomy state continuing a considerable time; deep dejection; gloominess.
2. Great and continued depression of spirits, amounting to mental unsoundness; melancholia.
3. Pensive maditation[sic]; serious thoughtfulness.
4. Ill nature.
a. 1. Depressed in spirits; dejected; gloomy dismal.
2. Producing great evil and grief; causing dejection; calamitous; afflictive; as, a melancholy event.
3. Somewhat deranged in mind; having the judgement impaired.
4. Favorable to meditation; somber.
Although “melancholy” has strong roots in the mental health field, it appears that the word is also frequently used in the world of poets and poetry. Since I have no expertise on either, I refer you to the following web page, http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Definition-of-Melancholy, for a lovely take on the word and a discussion and examples of its use in the realm of poetry. For my purposes, it is the conclusion that intrigues me. He states:
There is a devious sadness to the world in which we live – a sadness that comes to find us in the night, when we’re all alone under the canopy of a million stars. Something within us knows that we ought to be better – that our love ought to burn brighter and shine more fiercely – that our passion and conviction for life ought to be strong, and lead us through that nagging temptation to settle for the ordinary and mundane. Something within us knows that life was always meant to be lived to the full. And this something, when it comes to find us, convicts us of all the cheap and common things we often settle for. This feeling, in my mind, is the definition of melancholy.