In the North words are short. At least the best ones are. Maybe they have to be. People in the North need words they can yell across a fjord or from one boat to another. The words rarely have a lot of vowels; mostly hard sounds that don’t mind the rain.
Often they live happy lives on their own. These strong words are independent types. But every now and then, there are chance encounters hosted by a writer taking a fresh look at Norse words and what happens when they are paired up.
Please meet ‘wild’. Some say it is Norse, others Frisian or old English. All I know is that you find the word in the languages spoken in places you can sail to if you start somewhere around the North Sea, and have a couple of days. ‘Wild’ is full of energy and freedom. Maybe a bit excessive yet often in a beautiful way. Sometimes it is an admirable quality, sometimes it is a bit too much. But ‘wild’ doesn’t leave anybody indifferent. It hits you and demands action.
And then there is ‘hope’. Obviously a gentler existence. A warm word that comes with a sense of light and future. Hope has no tether. When you hope, you are not limited by facts or science. It is a wonderful, positive sentiment driving every human forward.
At some point in the 1930s, ‘wild’ and ‘hope’ became a couple. A Danish author needed to describe her new, breathtaking world, and claimed ‘Wild Hope’ as her wings to explore the new land.
Each word in ‘Wild Hope’ is beautiful, but together they become extra powerful. Say them loud – in English, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian – and they sound like the 1-2 of a boxer warming up. When hope is wild, it is unstoppable, and when wild sits next to hope, it shares its energy with its partner.
‘Wild Hope’ and I met the other day when I was leafing through the Danish version of ‘Out of Africa’ by Karen Blixen. As so often these days, my thoughts were with a wonderful woman in my family who is dealing with a brutal challenge to her health.
‘Wild Hope’ took me aside and said:
‘We know her. We know how exceptionally important she is to you. Tell her Wild Hope is right there with her. We have her back.’