Clarities “The Clarities” I choose the word clarity for this OED Essay. It seemed to fit rather well and piqued my interest as well. After reading the poem, I began to wonder what different meanings there were for this word. The author could have intended a less obvious meaning for the word clarities. So I decided to look it up.
There were several definitions listed. One of which was brightness, lustre, brilliancy, splendour. I thought this definition was really interesting, because it wasn’t the one I thought of orginally, and yet it was still the first one listed. It also was interesting because, considering what the poem is about, it adds a new light or tone to the poem. It adds a new way to describe love. It says how brilliant love is.
This is also interesting because most historically this was the accepted definition of this word. Over the years the word must have changed meanings slightly. In that time the word was also used to mean clear, as in: the water is clear. Only more recently was it seen as clear meaning: clearness of thinking. This definition of this word became obsolete in the sixteenth century.
The word than came to it’s present spelling. This spelling almost became obsolete in the seventeenth century, but was revived more recently. Other definitions of clarity have been light in the literal sense. Clarity was used briefly around the 1650’s to mean light referring to the sun. Another definition was glory and divine lustre. This definition was more permanent.
It was used from the 1300’s through the 1600’s. This definition however has not been used in recent times. There also was one other definition other than the one accepted today. This definition was illustrious quality; lustre of renown. This is also an interesting definition to apply to this poem.
The thought of love as being renown sheds new light. If one were to go through this poem with that definition in mind it would probably turn out to be a very different poem. The last and final definition is the one that still stands today. Clearness is now what we uses clarity to mean. We can use it to mean clarity of mind or clarity can involve seeing something.
This definition of this word has been in use since the early 1600’s and it still holds today. This is the longest standing use of this word. It will be interesting to see if this word continues to change meaning.