Wednesday’s Word: Welkin
This word means simply “sky” or “the heavens”. It is an antiquated word that descends from the Old English wolcen. I doubt you’ll get much practical use out of it, but it is occasionally used in the phrase, “the ringing of the welkin” to signal when something momentous is occurring or is about to occur.
The word was a favorite of Shakespeare’s and here are just a few of the places where he used it:
The starry welkin cover thou anon
– A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By thy favour, sweet welkin, I must sigh in thy face
– Love’s Labour’s Lost
But shall we make the welkin dance indeed?
– Twelfth Night
The sky, it seems, would pour down stinking pitch,
But that the sea, mounting to the welkin’s cheek,
Dashes the fire out.
– The Tempest
But once again, my attraction to the word stems chiefly from the sound of it. It just seems to roll off the tongue and hint at something ancient and mysterious.
For my novel, Into the Vast, I used this word for the name of the group of people who live, ironically, below the ground. Independent of the word’s actual meaning, I liked it because it seems to have the word “kin” in it and I wanted to express the tight-knit, family structure of these people. Of course the other part of the word sounds like “well”, as in a water well. So the word, just from the modern sounds comes out a bit like “the people (kin) who live in the well”.
Later on it is mentioned that these people share a common belief and hope that one day they will emerge from their underground dwellings and actually live in the sky. Thus, their name in the world of the Vast actually means, “dwellers of the sky”, which is much closer to the real meaning of the word in English.
Welkin, of course is just one of dozens of words which I used to describe the strange and alien world of the Vast. If you’d like to check out some of the others, be sure to check out the glossary from the downloads page.
Until next time, let the welkin ring.