I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am.
I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun.
I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—
an integral function of the universe.

—R. Buckminster Fuller

Once upon a time
rain, snow, thunder
identified weather phenomena
but were also simple nouns
naming things. Some place,
some time, humans verbed
those nouns, turning them into
action words.

They became things that moved,
had sound and texture and oomph,
the engines of sentences, which,
I used to tell my grammar
students, make sentences go.

Look, I’d say, up to a fifth
of all English verbs arose from
nouns. We name things,
then set them in motion.
Think about:

All splendid nouns that, when verbed,
blossom with fresh meaning:
—The fly flew away.
—His kind attempts to comfort her provided great comfort.
—Peel that peel right off that banana.

The older I get, the more I flirt with eternity;
I evolve, become more verb, though
I embrace sturdy nouns, too:
—Yesterday I napped for a quick half hour.
—I’d like to take a longer nap today.

In the great cosmological mystery,
I flow from passive to active
and back again, my life’s sentences
continuously under construction,
still writing my story,

delighted to call myself a tiny
but elemental component of this
ever-expanding universe.

About janishaag

Writer, writing coach, editor
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1 Response to Verbification

  1. shaunasmith says:

    Hi Jan,Love this! Especially “life’s sentences.” :)Warmly, Shauna Shauna L. Smith, MSW, LMFT3101- I Street Suite #104Sacramento, CA 95816

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