Some words occupy spaces only they can fill.  Those words are like surviving twins; they are incomplete pairs that cannot be repaired, no matter how much energy is expended to that end. One such word is blood. Oh, one might find thesauri that suggest synonyms, but the supposed synonyms they offer do not pass muster. Neither hemoglobin nor plasma nor  sanguine fluid nor the slang form, claret, do justice to blood. Blood, alone, accomplishes the definitive task for the English language. And that is fine. In fact, the singularity of an adequate word to describe the necessary fluid of life is more than fine; it is right and just. Here, of course, I’m referring only to the red liquid pumped by the heart.

There are other uses of the word “blood,” you know.

‘He’s a blood relative.’  ‘That man is hot-blooded.’ ‘Charles Manson was a cold-blooded killer.’ You know them. Those uses of the word attempt to borrow the significance and consequence of ‘blood.’

Many writers attempt to conjure blood through similes and metaphors, but none of their attempts endangers the superiority of that one word.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Blood

  1. Holly Forrest says:

    As always, JS, a killer post. Would love to have you explore this further.

    When I think of writers wielding the word blood, I think of Shakespeare. I remember one wonderful production of Macbeth set in a theatre with a small round stage with a pool of a deep crimson sticky karo syrup-based concoction. Actors dipped their daggers into this stuff and costumes grew increasingly messy.

    It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood.
    Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak.
    Augurs and understood relations have
    By magot pies and choughs and rooks brought forth
    The secret’st man of blood.

    Of course, he conjures the awful scent of the real fluid with Lady Macbeth’s somnabulant lament:

    Gent. It is an accustom’d action with her, to seem thus washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.
    Lady M. Yet here’s a spot.
    Doct. Hark! she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
    Lady M. Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why, then ’tis time to do ’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?
    Doct. Do you mark that?
    Lady M. The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?—What, will these hands ne’er be clean?—No more o’ that, my lord, no more o’ that; you mar all with this starting.
    Doct. Go to, go to; you have known what you should not.
    Gent. She has spoke what she should not, I am sure of that; Heaven knows what she has known.
    Lady M. Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!

    There are zillions more references, each rich and wondrous. Thanks for making me think about this subject. ~ H

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