The above photo is of jasmine just off my front porch. Its blooming season is brief, but all the more appreciated because of its brevity.
It limns the space with light.
Today, I want to offer back story on the word “limn” and why I chose it for this publication.
Limn was more commonly used in the mid-1600s than now.
My first encounter with the word was in the poem Hound of Heaven.
It’s not a short poem. It’s not Paradise Lost or anything, but it has 182 lines …
Pretty impressive, considering the journey of its author, Francis Thompson. He struggled with opium addiction and suicidal thoughts for years, and was homeless for a while on the streets of England.
When he was 18 or so, he submitted a small collection of poems to several publishers. One man who read them was so impressed he sought Thompson out, but had a difficult time finding him because he was homeless at the time.
This publisher tried to get Thompson back on his feet, publishing his works, including Hound of Heaven, in 1890. I think he even opened his own home to the young man for a time.
Although Francis Thompson died at a relatively young age, 47, his poem has reached far and wide, been memorized (by me😊), quoted, and even made into a short film.
Here’s how the word limn shows up in the poem:
Ah! must Thou char the wood
ere Thou canst limn with it?
But that was not the only place I encountered the word.
The credit goes to my daughter.
She raced through a children’s book series several years ago and told me I had to read the books.
So I did. Some of the best books I’ve ever read.
In the story, the royal family of a fallen kingdom raise their children to learn three subjects—word, form, and song.
Those who study the art of word are called limners.
My daughter loved that.
Truth be told, she’s more of a natural writer than I am. Reading leads to writing and she was immersed throughout her childhood in word and story, in fantasy and epics of good versus evil.
So, she adopted the title. My daughter, the limner, although college and work these days leave her little time to carve stories and set them alight with beauty.
But I wanted you to know the back story. Give credit where it’s due.
It is those who walk these ordinary days with us that so often help us find meaning, isn’t it?
They point out a word or a truth to remember, like a colorful shell washed ashore. We pick it up from the sandy beachline.
We admire it a moment and then toss it back into the waters for someone else to find. Or we take it home, keep the beauty close to us, and share it with those who step into our spaces.
May you be blessed with offerings of grace by those who walk this road with you.
~ Bonita Jewel
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I love the backstory and how you came to name your Substack! I can imagine it takes discipline and commitment to get words on a paper regularly. I applaud you! Thank you for sharing your gift with us 🙏🏼
May I ask what the children’s book series is, the one that you mention inspired both your daughter and yourself?