[There’s a difference between lonely and lonesome though what it is I’m not quite sure]

by Terena Elizabeth Bell

Maybe one is a being, the other a state — a word that describes you instead of being who you are.

Lonely and lonesome have never been hingent on being alone — outside of etymology that is, lonesome the older word, first used in northern England in the mid-seventeenth century. I’ve never been there, but I suppose if I were out wandering the moors, season of mist and mellow fruitfulness — my life in the weather, idle misery — well,

I might be a little lonesome too.


The word even has that sound to it:
Say it. Say it with me and you will not be alone.


Merriam-Webster tells us that lonesomeness is the state of being, of feeling sad or dejected as the result of a lack of companionship or separation from others. I am separated from my mother, my father, my niece. I am separated from myself. I am alone.


John Donne preached no man is an island, that we all — each and every one of us — are part of some continent much deeper and vaster than ourselves … if this is true, then they wait for me, on the other side of an ocean of great distance, beyond my existence, my main.


Lonely. Lonesome.



Terena Elizabeth Bell has published in The Atlantic, Playboy, The Yale Review, Juked, and others. Originally from Sinking Fork, Kentucky, she lives in New York where under the pseudonym Lizzy Sisk, she edits Writing Through the Classics, a series of classic novels annotated with prompts and notes on craft.




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