A Weapon of Mass Construction

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Thought it’d be a good idea to start my post off with both a thought-provoking title and a (mostly) overused quote, just so that you’re efficiently baffled. Perhaps you’re starting to form ideas in your mind already as to what I’m going to write about.

I was talking to my friend last night, and I can’t remember how exactly we got there, but we (REALLY) briefly touched upon the power of words. The conversation went a little bit like this:

Me: It’s so much fun. Writing these whole new worlds.

Him: Yeah I know. Funny how words can completely shape an environment/character.

Me: Yeah. Words are amazing. They can do so much man.

(And then, here comes the amazing bit…)

Me: That’s my next blog post. Words and their power.

So here I am. And here we are.

Let’s return to the quote from the beginning. I actually love this quote so much. “The pen is mightier than the sword.” It’s so relevant and so true. Allow me to enlighten you as to some of the many ways this quote is relevant. But first, some context.

This quote is attributed to the novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play ‘Cardinal Richelieu’.

Francois: But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord.

Richelieu: The pen is mightier than the sword… take away the sword; States can be saved without it!

Now, since Richelieu is a priest, there is obviously the stigma that he is not allowed to take up arms against people who are trying to kill him. However, he acknowledges that even though he has no weapons, the power of words is more powerful than any weapon he could use. He even goes so far as to say that without armaments, entire states can be saved.

I haven’t read the play (the above was the result of some quick googling – thanks BBC) but context is always helpful. However, the BBC article also informed me that there were even earlier references to this path of thought.

A similar phrase appears in 1582, “The dashe of a Pen, is more greeuous then the counterbuse of a Launce.” (The dash of a pen is more grievous than the counter use of a lance.) Going back further, the Greek poet Euripides, is quoted as writing: “The tongue is mightier than the blade.” “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than 1,000 bayonets,” is another quote comparing a weapon to words, and is allegedly attributed to Napoleon.

So, what we learn here is that many people, not just writers and artists, but world leaders, and leading thinkers alike all seem to have the same train of thought. Let’s keep going.

According to Google definition, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’ is an old proverb which means ‘writing is more effective than military power or violence.’ According to the Cambridge Dictionaries website, it means ‘thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than the use of force or violence.’

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

“But this cannot be!” You say. “How can something which simply emits ink onto a page be more powerful than that which can take lives?” (You’re probably NOT saying this – or at least, I hope you’re not – but just pretend you are for the purposes of this blog post).

Let’s look at this from a more literal standpoint.

The thing about a sword is that it has one purpose: to destroy. I very much doubt any soldier would have picked up a sword and thought “Hey, this would be GREAT to cut my nice block of cheddar with,” or “Perhaps this would look nice if I melted it down and made it into a necklace.” Swords are for killing, really. They don’t have much other purpose. The people who wield swords have one intention: to kill. Yes, swords can take away lives, and yes, they can rip lives apart because of the lives they have taken away.

The thing about a pen, however, is that it also has a purpose, but one which both reflects and counteracts the purpose of a sword: to destroy AND create. With a pen (or a metaphorical pen; I think typing counts too) authors have single-handedly crafted worlds, characters, Kingdoms, realms, and even re-created parts of history, all with its’ carefully wielded use. Yes, pens might not be able to physically kill people – although, I suppose it depends which pen you use – but, to an extent, they CAN physically kill people. Pens can also destroy. People used pens (or quills, rather) to sign death warrants. People write malice and hate-fuelled letters, which can tear someone’s life apart. Newspaper articles filled with slander can ruin someones career… or alternatively build them up. There is very little limit to the power of the pen.

A sword, on the other hand, would not be used for construction. What good can you do with a sword? Swords aren’t made to create. Pens are, however. And words do exactly that.

I also thought that the blog title was rather apt, because a sword, or any other weapon really, is a weapon of mass destruction. But a pen, being as it is, can be used as a weapon of mass construction. I think it’s amazing how powerful a simple word can be.

Words literally create a whole other realm of thought. Reading a book is not just an amazing feat for the reader (who, in a sense, is doing a bit of work on their part too, as no two readers view a book in the exact same way) but also for the person who wrote it. In order for you to have imagined the book, or the character, or the setting, in the way they would have wanted you to, surely that required a level of skilful use of words.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone is necessarily able to use words in terms of literature. But everyone uses their own powerful words in different ways. Some people (like myself) prefer to write their power. Some prefer to speak it. Some prefer to sing it. Some prefer to dream it.

But everything we do with words has some form of power, whether we recognise it or not.

Words were what the slaves used in their songs to empower themselves and each other in the darkest moments of their lives. Today, we have the lyrics of Negro Spirituals to remind us of that. Words were what the Popes of Medieval Christendom used to wage war on countries. Today, we see the effects of the Crusades, all because some men had willed it with their words. Words were what Hitler used to rally the support of millions of German citizens, and instil a sense of nationalism and patriotism within them all. Today, we look back at the horrific results from the rule of a skilled orator and yet an evil, racist, homophobic, misogynist dictator.

Words are amazing. They are beyond comprehension. How is it that we can both look at the same tree, but you describe it in a different way to me? Because the physical appearance of that tree manifests itself in words in our mind in different ways.

Pens are the metaphorical vessels of words. Since we live in the age of technology, I suppose not very many people use pens anymore; we prefer to type. (Speaking of type, I would LOVE a typewriter, actually). But pens, quills and ink, fountain pens, were what many famous poets, writers and singers used to pen their eternal works. The pen was what immortalised Shakespeare, Austen, Chaucer, Poe, Hemingway, Dickens, Tolkien, Orwell, Steinbeck, Woolf, Tolstoy and hundreds of other creatives like them.

So. That’s it. I think I’ve effectively used words to try and explain how words can be used effectively. (Also, the English language is so weird and complicated). To end, here’s a poem which makes me grateful that I grew up speaking English and didn’t have to learn it as a second language. And once again reiterating the power of words, to not only create and destroy… but also to confuse.

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you
On hiccough, thorough, slough, and through.
Well don’t! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps.
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard but sounds like bird.
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead,
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
A moth is not a moth as in mother
Nor both as in bother, nor broth as in brother,
And here is not a match for there,
Nor dear and fear, for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose–
Just look them up–and goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward
And font and front and word and sword
And do and go, then thwart and cart,
Come, come! I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful Language? Why man alive!
I learned to talk it when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried,
I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five.

Good afternoon everyone, and love you all.

The Faerie Squad Mother x

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Jesus Take The Wheel

You know when you’re trying to to do the writing thing and you just can’t?

Like, for some reason your brain shuts off or you go blank and then you stare at the cursor, mocking you, DARING you to “Go on. Write something.” So you manage to whack out a couple of sentences, and it doesn’t even make sense; you end up rewriting the same three lines over and over and over again.

But, as Susanna says, “Just because I have no writing, doesn’t mean I can’t writing.” (Yes, I know it doesn’t make grammatical sense, and it’s not supposed to, but please don’t judge me – it’s 19:53 on a Sabbath evening).

What’s been going on with me recently? Hmmm? Well, I’ve learnt that I have very strong tendencies to eat apples. In fact, in the past week, I’ve probably eaten about two every day. This might not sound bad, but first of all, that means that I’m keeping TWO doctors away (and what if I get sick or something!) and secondly, if you knew me, you’d know that I don’t really like fruit. Me eating two apples is weird. Am I pregnant?!

Who knows.

Also, I’ve found out that I have an inclination towards Classical music. I’ve actually found some really nice composers and songs and I’ve even been listening to it to go to sleep a few times. I’m going to start listening to it when I study because apparently it helps to retain information and it puts your brain into a more relaxed state of mind to learn and absorb information. It doesn’t hurt that it’s very beautiful either. One of my most recent top composers is Ludovico Einaudi, his pieces are really calming and I really do believe that classical music can get you feeling some kind of way. You feel?

I’m pretty sure that I want one of his pieces to be played for my wedding march, because UGH it just gives me the shivers. In a good way, of course.

Anyway, not very much has been happening with me. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get any more writing done recently. It honestly feels as if all the writing has been sucked out of me, which is exactly why I couldn’t write the other day. I wanted to post something emotional about the plane crash, because I felt so horrible and sick when I heard it, but I thought, I better not before I end up ranting and raving about this man. Of course, I’m not justifying what he has done, but I have no idea what he was feeling or thinking. But I’m not going to get into this, or I WILL become emotional.

I don’t know why but I don’t feel like I have that spark today. The one that makes me want to write and creates worlds with the flick of a pen and make the words on a page come alive. I seem to have lost my ability to command the armies of words that flow from my mind, and it’s making me feel terrible and so useless.

There are a couple more competitions closing within the next week or so, but I’m panicking, because I’m here just struggling to even whack out a sentence, and most of the word counts are 1,000 or above. Honestly, when I’m at school and have lots of work to do, I can sit at my laptop for hours and type and type endless story, my imagination runs wild. And now, I have to do revision and I’m on holiday, so I have more time than before at least, and the only thing that I can do is start with an opening phrase.

Usually, I’ll just type a sentence and then an idea will suddenly come to me and I’ll run with that. Then the more I type, I find words that I can use and phrases that would fit beautifully and then I think YES I’ve got it, and that’s it. But right now, I’m staring at this opening phrase and hoping that something will type itself for me. Really, Jesus take the wheel, because right now, I am not a licensed driver.

I’m also underage. I shouldn’t even be driving.

I have a YouTube tab open, listening to some Classical to get my brain working, but all it’s doing is making me want to sleep. Like, no! Darn you, neural conditioning! Please, please, if I could just get a paragraph, that would be great. At the moment I’m working on about three stories, but none of them are going anywhere, and they’re all better in theory than in practice. Maybe if I had more time, like in the summer, then I’ll get back to writing them. But I’ve done all my research and background on them and everything. I’ve got folders for them and it’s just a matter of time before I find myself adding more to the documents, or maybe even (as I have done in several cases) deleting them altogether and just starting again.

That is usually quite an easy option. It also seems to be most effective in encouraging me to write more, because it’s kind of like I HAVE to write in order to replace the work I’ve deleted and then more because I have to make more progress on this.

All I know is that in the summer (or at least after all my exams) I’m going to be writing like crazy, writing down all the things I never had time to before. (Which is now, because I’m speaking of the future). I don’t have time to do anything it seems now, but I really need to make time. All I can do is hand the steering wheel over to Jesus. (Not literally, because I don’t drive, and not even figuratively; what I mean is myself and Him would have to swap sides, so I’ll end up on the passenger side…)

And also eat more apples. And listen to Classical music.

That seems to do the trick.

Goodnight everybody, it’s too late and OMD I am going to lose an entire HOUR of beauty sleep.

Really raving about this lost hour now. Gosh.

Queen Rianna

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Procrastination

Tomorrow I have four and a half (I’ve already written the first half) Spanish paragraphs due.

Ah, pues. (Oh well).

I’ve decided that my GCSE controlled assessments can wait. I mean, what are exams right? Especially the ones that can potentially shape your future? They’re practically pointless.

I don’t have much to write about today, so I’ve decided to share another few of my poems. This time they are taken from my third collection, ‘Lovestruck’. Interestingly – and ironically – the first one is called ‘Bilingual’. I actually wrote it when I was supposed to be doing my Spanish homework (do you see a trend here?) and I was thinking about this guy – yes, it is slightly personal, *blush* – and then I got sidetracked… and really annoyed, actually, and so I wrote this.

The second one is called ‘Guessing Games’, which was my first attempt at rhyming poetry. (I’m not a huge fan of rhyming poetry…) But here they are. So, you know what to do!


Bilingual (From ‘Lovestruck’)

I speak English. You speak English.

We only speak English.

Or at least, that is the only language we can speak fluently.

So why

Does it feel like,

Most of the time

We are speaking two different languages?

Your words are obscure

Sometimes, what you say has no

Translation

It doesn’t fit neatly back into my way of thinking

It’s confusing

And just when I finally figure out ONE word

There are eighteen more to translate

Sentences are never simple

I have to string together highly-complex

Conjugated, conditional verbs and nouns

Tenses even I don’t understand

To force you to read between the lines.

I thought your alphabet would be easier

But it’s just like reading hieroglyphics

You have no key. No chart. No

Self-teaching tools.

You just have to… know.

There are no cognates. Nothing remotely

Familiar

About the things you say

Everything I say is easily lost

In Translation

You misinterpret the clearest messages

I wish

Sometimes, I just WISH

That you would talk

My language.


Guessing Games (From ‘Lovestruck)

You look at me

I look at you.

You smile at me

And I do too.

You look away, which I impute

Is down to me.

You’re kinda cute.

You look back up, your smiles unfurls

My heart does ballerina twirls.

Electrically, you shuffle in.

Your smile could cause a saint to sin.

Your searching eyes, they pierce right through

I’m now neck-deep in your gaze too

To which my breath has no escape

My heart it whispers, “Listen, wait.”

Then you lean down close to my ear

And whisper… but did I mishear

The compliment that you just paid

Was not for me, but for that jade!

I see her… and she’s mesmeric!

But you moved from ME pretty quick…

That’s not what I thought you would say

I should have got a play-by-play

Deep down, I wished that you’d see me

What you had called her, lovely

I will not play this game with you,

I will not guess, just tell the truth

I’m running circles, can’t you see

The impact that you have on me?

I give up.


I hope you liked them. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before but I’m not the greatest at writing love poetry, and I don’t think that this collection is as good as the other two. But, you know, I thought it might be nice to get some other opinions. Please do comment and let me know what you think!

Adios, mis amigos!

Reina Rianna

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Extracts From My Mind

I’ve spoken a bit about the fact that I write poetry and I’m really into creative writing, but I really want to share some of my stuff. To be honest, I’m not in the best mind-set for writing a witty, sassy blog post right now, so I think that I’ll just hit you with some deep poems.

A bit of background. At the moment, I am working on 3 collections of poetry. The first is entitled “Equality and Other Jokes” and the poems in it are based on the struggles which a teenage girl faces in a western society. The second is entitled “Liberation” which is inspired by the plight and battles which black people have had to fight over the course of history, and the third is entitled “Lovestruck”, which I’m pretty sure speaks for itself. (In case you didn’t guess, I usually write about things which I have either experienced first hand, as a straight black teenage female, or things which I have seen or heard about through friends, other people or the news.)

I’ll just share one piece from the first and second collection; the first poem is entitled Unbreakable and is based on how the neglect of parents can lead to girls looking for love in the wrong place. The second is called Seventeen which was inspired by the book To Kill A Mockingbird, (if you don’t understand it, then Google search Tom Robinson) but I think they both speak for themselves. Enjoy.


Unbreakable (From ‘Equality and Other Jokes’)

Bedroom. Make-up littering every visible surface. Leaking onto the floor. Dark stains on the carpet.

Unabated.

Wardrobe opens. Piles of material spill onto the floor. Trodden on.

Unworn.

Dressing table. Lamp switched on. Perfecting imperfections in the glassy, glossy mirror.

Unrealistic.

Jeans, top, tan – spray on everything. Sticky enough to wrap a sandwich in.

Understated.

Under the bed. Pairs and pairs of shoes clutter and cluster in large groups. Colours hidden away.

Unused.

Leaving. Before 10. Mum’s on the sofa. Glance over. Eyes glaze over. Turns back to the telly.

Unloved.

Arrive. Shouting for friends. Walking through. Turning on more than the light in the coat room.

Unabridged.

Drinking. People passed out on the floor. Spliffs being passed around like a church collection plate.

Unambiguous.

Eyes meet. Dance closer. Glazed over. Move slower. Feeling tipsy.

Unaware.

Upstairs. Fumbling around. Lips on lips. Clothes on clothes. Skin on skin. Don’t know him.

Unadulterated.

After. Stumbling in the dark. Drunkenly pulling jeans back on. Tears threatening to appear.

Unbearable.

Home. After 3. Can’t walk straight. Mum sees. Says nothing. Switches the TV off and goes upstairs.

Unblinking.

Bedroom. Back to the start. Peels off layers of cling film. Climbs under sheets. Tries to forget.

Understandable.

(Copyright 04-03-15)


Seventeen (From ‘Liberation’)

holes of torn apart flesh from which his life force ebbs away and

the scars will never heal they will only grow bigger

and the image of the circular patterns will haunt the minds of the children

forever. in their minds they will connect the dots and create

a beautiful picture from something so ugly and marred and the

only image they will ever have of him is one which they have idealised and

romanticised and justified. because they don’t want to admit that he

could have possibly been wronged because there is always

a justification because they are always right and people like him are never

something is wrong but nobody wants to say

anything because they don’t want to be the one whom everyone turns

against and that would be a disaster if they end up like that man who is

lying faceless, face up in a grave. of course they wouldn’t want him face down because

then everyone would see the bare canvas of his tautly stretched back and they would realise

that the story given couldn’t make sense and they would finally put two and

two together and make

seventeen.

melanin leaks from his wounds.

(Copyright 04-03-15)


So, quite a contrast to my usual posts. Pretty intense, but I’m feeling a bit deep right now. I hope you liked them, and yes totally comment, please, comments are very much appreciated! Because my fictional pieces are notably longer, maybe I’ll just post extracts of them now and again. But let me know what you guys think…

Thank you for reading them though!

Queen Rianna

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