Pathopoeia ( path-o-poy’-a): A general term for speech that moves hearers emotionally, especially as the speaker attempts to elicit an emotional response by way of demonstrating his/her own feelings (exuscitatio). Melanchthon explains that this effect is achieved by making reference to any of a variety of pathetic circumstances: the time, one’s gender, age, location, etc.
I have a field. It has rich soils and rocky soils. It supports an abundance of wildflowers, mice, yellow and black striped Garden Snakes, bees, butterflies, ants and even a box turtle hunting for worms and crickets and other insects. For some reason I named him Lolly. I pick him up every-once-in-awhile. Somebody had carved “2000” on his shell. Cruel, but he had survived and flourished—he was 20 years old, but his survival certainly did not indicate that turtle shell carving is harmless.
The field is verdant and thick with life—plant, animal, insect. Autumn creeps in and then winter drops like a brick. Relentless cold, wind and snow. It’s early March and my back porch bird seed feeder and suet feeder are swamped, but there’s no fighting—just light pushing.
Its getting ‘warmer’ and the snow is melting, revealing bare patches of ground were the tall grass is matted down and buried treasures are revealed—things that blew into the field and have been buried all winter—a birthday balloon, a nondescript cardboard box, a gallon milk jug, a piece of aluminum siding and a small black thing. I get my binoculars and focus in. The small black thing is Lolly, laying on his back, dead. Poor little Lolly. The next morning, I look out the window and he’s gone. I suspect the local fox carried him off to help him get through the last few weeks of winter (along with other things).
Lolly’s disappearance should’ve affected me more. But he was dead and the fox was alive. If you’re going to love nature you have to accept how it balances out. I will miss Lolly in the field this summer, but I will take joy in the fox pups if their mother brings them to visit.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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