The very word gloaming reverberates…

Word count: 211 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

A great way to improve your writing skills is to emulate the work of others. Here is a sentence I read recently that I’d happily imitate.  

When I was a Girl Guide, back in the dark ages, one of my favourite campfire songs, called Fire’s Burning, included the word “gloaming.” It seemed so evocative to me — that weird combination of “glowing” and “loam,” soil that’s filled with silt and clay. Somehow it perfectly suggested the time of night, when the sky is as dark as dirt but it’s punctuated by the light of a single campfire.

A similar thought is traced by Joan Didion in her remarkable book Blue Nights. Here it is, in my sentence of the week.

“The very word “gloaming” reverberates, echoes – the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour – carrying in its consonants the images of houses, shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows.”

I find it interesting the way she focuses on the consonants — all those “gl-” words. If you read the sentence out loud they reverberate in short, staccato bursts. I also enjoy her images of darkened gardens and the sibilance of the rivers slipping through shadows. It’s a sentence, yes, but it’s also poetry.

Scroll to Top