Silver is often overlooked for the more precious metal, gold, but this element has special properties which deserve a second look.
For example, of all the metals, pure silver is the best conductor of electricity and heat. Silver is only a little harder than gold, but pure silver is still too soft for products like jewelry and tableware, so your grandmother’s finest flatware is most likely sterling silver, an alloy of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper (although sometimes other metals are used).
Nothing reflects light quite like silver. Of course, humans have always been fascinated by reflections. Narcissus was bewitched by his own reflection in a pool of water. While he may have been dazzled by the water’s reflection, silver is the best reflector of visible light, which makes it ideal for making mirrors. Mirrors have been used in interior decoration since the 17th century, through a process called “silvering, ” where the back of a glass sheet is coated with melted silver. The nature of the mirror isn’t fundamentally different from a pool of water, though. When light strikes the surface, some of it will be reflected. Mirrors are simply smooth surfaces with shiny, dark backgrounds that reflect well.
Because it possesses antibacterial properties, nanoparticles of silver can be woven into clothing to prevent bacteria from building up on deposits of sweat and oils. But just because it has antibacterial properties, doesn’t make it a good option for home remedies. Sometimes colloidal silver is sold as a homeopathic remedy for a variety of health complaints, but drinking the stuff has a weird side effect: It turns the skin blue.
While we’re talking about it, the word silver is one of the few words in the English language that is nearly impossible to rhyme. Words such as orange, purple, breadth, wolf, depth, angst, gulf, ninth and twelfth are also difficult or impossible to rhyme. While there are some words that do actually rhyme with these examples they are usually very rare or hardly used in the modern English language.
Write a poem about the element silver. Perhaps you could write a poem about the interesting properties of silver, a silver heirloom piece, or write about a silver mirror and what is reflected in it. Use imagery that shines like newly polished silver.
Here’s a recent poem by Andrew we enjoyed:
Pulse of the sea, feel of the foam
On face and hands. Reflected waves
Cast oscillating curves of blue
Into the inner mind. It calls,
And to its call I am as water,
Soft and mouldable. For it is me
As I wish I was. Bright, perfect,
And clear. A blue of passion, a
Bombardier blue, a sightless,
Blinding blue. And I can not resist
Nor do I want to. Within, the waves
Crash softly, whilst without
They capture curves of coast I’ve seen,
Only now caught in depths
That cry of fair aquamarine.
—by Andrew H
Photo by JD. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland