eternal & everlasting

eternal

Three syllables, seven letters, infinite time. This word hangs in the back of your head the axes of the endless: forever within (internal), forever without (external), forever revolving and returning (turn). It is found with a boundless set of words, preceding struggle, sunset, sunshine (of a spotless mind), city, night, prairie, hellfire, damnation, life, incompetence – you name it; on the one side of the coin is enduring and on the other is unendurable. If you listen to classical music you may hear æternum often, giving this word a flavour of singing and strings. This is a word that spans the universe, the great mu in the mind of the unknowable. It starts with an e as in eon and ends in the great null; on the way, you have a scent of the ether. And then you pass out of time.

everlasting

A trinity of morphemes for an eternity of time. This may be the greater infinity, having in it all the letters of eternal plus v, s, i, g (gives less an e). This is a fully Anglo-Saxon word, ever (a formation not found in other Teutonic languages; ay, which means “ever,” sounds like “eh” and was probably the basis of the first syllable of ever, is cognate with similar words in other related tongues) plus lasting, with the latter being last (meaning “endure,” in earlier times “follow” or “accomplish”) plus ing (the one that makes nouns, cognate with German ung). It has a nice rhythm, two trochees, making it well suited to being sung, which is why you may hear it in a bopping tune with the word love. It can also be heard with such words as damnation and hellfire, however, thanks to its ecclesiastical use. It may also bring to mind a brand of boxing attire. That connection may strengthen its occasional notes of elastic. The opening ever also carries with it a thought of its opposite, never, as in neverending. But, oddly, world without end brings to mind last things, and so lasting takes us forward to the end of time. It also takes us to the back of the mouth – from the v up front we move through the l and st on the alveolar ridge and end at the velum with ng. Extrapolation will take you through the glottis down to the source of breath, the perpetual cycle of breathing, an analogue of the cycle of all existence, life after life, big bang to big crunch to big bang and on.

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