Four-Letter Word

I discovered magic in a four-letter word. This is the second such experience for me and each time enlightenment was found through a seemingly irrelevant post to a message board, most recently in response to a comment made about a poem on a WordPress site which I follow. The poster noted that the poem reminded him of a four-letter word, to which I offered my own forgettable response. Days later my thoughts drifted to another poem on this subject, In Memory Of Radio by Amiri Baraka.

“love is an evil word. Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean? An evol word.”

I enjoy word play, but even to me, this seems like a bit of a stretch. Still, it did lead me to discover an interesting trait of my native tongue.

Sometimes these insights are humbling. The previously mentioned message board experience was on a fan site for the T.V. show 24. I submitted numerous well crafted posts and created what I felt were thought provoking themes, only to see most of them ignored, except for one which garnered over a thousand responses. Its subject? Favorite Word That Rhymes With Bump. I’m not sure how most current popular social media apps function, but “BUMP” is a device used on message boards to refresh a previously created topic by pushing it to the top of the message string. How little I understood, and how little I still understand, of what interests and motivates my fellow reader. But, there it was all along, right in front of my N-O-S-E, the magic in a four-letter word.

Love-Hate, Good-Evil, Rise-Fall, Lose-Find, Push-Pull, Give-Take, Open-Shut. Many are polar opposites, while others are complementary: Mind-Body, Trip-Fall, Risk-Loss, and from yesterday’s tragedy, Shot-Kill, Pray-Heal. Why do so many essential, emotionally compelling words in our language consist of four letters? Is there something intrinsic in the structure that goes beyond pure coincidence and this writer’s prejudice in seeking examples to support my premise?

Four letters, four squares, four sides, maybe there is something comforting and non-threatening about a square. My musings may add up to a hill of nothing, but I can’t help but notice that word is also a four-letter word, and wonder if there is some kind of da Vinci code tied to the origins of our language.



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