I'm not going to lie, because I know almost everyone is thinking it, but I had a very personal connection with this particular poem. The title drew me in, being the introspective person that I apparently am said to resemble, and having been called this by multiple people who shall remain nameless.
In any case, I loved the idea which Vorreyer brought up; the thought that any word could “belong” to and be loved by someone. It’s comforting to know that not everyone shies away from words that are more than two syllables long, even if they are as ridiculous sounding as “gegenshein” and “zoanthropy”.
While I am on the subject of these words, I looked both of them up because I was curious, as usual. If you don’t know what they mean and really want to know then you should probably work up the motivation to look them up yourself! But I found that “zoanthropy” was crazy and slightly hilarious, and the pictures of “gegenshein” were absolutely beautiful. Which led me to wonder why I had never heard these words before, and neither had Vorreyer according to her opening line. Because I loved these words too: they were entertaining, fun, and, although they sound kind of silly, almost anyone could appear intelligent using them in an everyday conversation…if everyone could be convinced that they were actual words.
Then I read the second stanza, “They say if you use a word three times, it’s yours. What happens to ones that no one speaks?” The rest of her poem suggests that these words are lost entirely, until a brave soul finds them, lonely and searching. But it made me think that perhaps no one speaks them, but they cannot have been completely forgotten. Perhaps they do “wait bitterly” as they watch the more renowned words be tossed back and forth throughout daily conversations. Vorreyer compares them to “hollow-eyed orphans in Dickensian bedrooms,” a bleak picture, but suitable for her attempt to flaunt her word-humanitarianism.
Vorreyer’s fourth stanza is about how these words may “wait patiently” for someone to find them, like a shy person at a school dance. And even after that, she continues to personify words by referring to them as “tired” and “poor” and homeless. She tries to give the words a deeper aura, making them more emotionally appealing to the audience. But words are not people, they are not even objects: they are ideas. Ideas that were thought up by SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE to explain SOMETHING that obviously seemed important to their creator. So it is kind of ridiculous to think that they will every truly be lost forever. And, anyways, she has managed to save at least two of these “shy shadows” from eternal darkness and despair.
My favorite line from her entire poem was at the very end, “…all those words without a home, come out and play—live in my poem.” She is like one of those amazing foster parents in the movies that you fall in love with for their kindness towards the children who have has a rough start. There seems to be a maternal love laced throughout the poem, beckoning all these wandering words into her writing, where they will be kept safe and always be cherished. And that was what really stood out to me in her poem, that I admired the most: her appreciation of a language that was once so beautiful and elegant, but that has been butchered and reduced to something barely worth mentioning. I have always been fascinated by authors who could capture the English language as something awe-inspiring, and I am certain that Vorreyer is right there with me.