The last three posts have explained three ways in which words matter: 1) for poetic visions, 2) for emphasis, and 3) for art. Today’s choice for words matter illustrates each of these. Muhammad Ali used words to convey his vision, to emphasize his prowess, and to shape ideas.
How succinct a philosophy. How apt a description of what deters us from our dreams.
As children, we dream big dreams. We know little about the path, its smooth or rough nature, or about the hazards on our road. Some of us walk on, undeterred by pebbles, rocks, or boulders. Others of us turn back in search of an easier path when the pebbles are too sharp, too common. Ali knows the pebbles--the obstacles, hurdles, and challenges--wear people down until they count themselves out.
I’m the greatest thing that ever lived! I’m the king of the world! I’m a bad man. I’m the prettiest thing that ever lived.
Words give me the power to express my experience. They clarify and solidify my vision. We rely upon leaders and writers and philosophers to put into words the truth for our due deliberation.
Ali used his words similarly. He used them communicate his vision, and in many cases, his vision included intimidating opponents. In doing so, he also used them to shore up his own confidence and translate vision into actions.
Ali uses repetition effectively with the phrase “wars of” and the words “fought,” “change,” and “maps. In the first use, “change” is a verb, but in the second, a noun. The first use of “maps” is as a noun whereas the second use is as a verb. Such artful manipulation of words and parts of speech renders the idea more powerfully.
Words are as much a part of Ali’s legacy as his fights in the ring or with Parkinson’s.
Read about Muhammad Ali.
Using your own subject, imitate each of the three Ali quotations cited above. Take note of the sentence lengths, the parts of speech, and word choices.
Connye Griffin is My Writing and Editing Coach