Our windows are a real measure of the openness and freedom with which we live now, of our sense of feeling settled and secure. Through them we may watch the growth and decline and return of days and seasons; may observe and be observed by our friends, our neighbors and the passing world; and may appreciate our involvement in life outside, and our individual place in it.I advise my readers to go to this poetic source and you can find it in the library, or buy it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or AbeBooks. In the course of continuing we will meet with other historic sources and find other poetry from our subject…
Our windows are our oldest, simplest and most direct medium of communication. We look through them continually, but how often do we look at them? Look at windows! They have more to tell you–about your heritage and about your present self–than they have ever shown you.
The word window derives from the Middle English words windowe or windohe whose origins are in the Old Norse word vindauga 1, meaning “wind eye.” How many of the words we have inherited describe with such apt simplicity the purpose of what they define?
The earliest known windows discovered in the dwellings of a Neolithic village unearthed in Anatolia, were literally wind eyes–small apertures piercing the thick walls of houses, through which people could look out over the community they had created, and through which the fresh air and sunlight could come into their homes.
Those first windows were more than an actual breakthrough, they were a symbolic one. The village itself meant that men had learned at last how to live and work together in peace. The opening up of windows was token of their growing sense of security and of community. (Clery, 1979, no page numbers)
Wind eye could stand for potential for ventilation and the capacity to view through/see. Pretty simple, but a good basis for the significance of our subject. Not only does the window provide for visibility and aeration it often is shaped and placed to withstand the elements. Our Anatolian window being placed so high protects residents from being flooded. Gothic stained-glass windows are partitioned with iron and hinges, so they can withstand the force of severe winds. If those large windows were of one piece and not partitioned with room for air, they would break from wind force. I learned about Gothic stained glass windows from Professor William Clark, a learned source for matters Gothic. Val Clery, a poetic and insightful Canadian wrote the text for a photographic book on windows and the primary paragraphs are worth quoting for fact and suggestion:
1 After the Viking raiders, the Norse colonizers of eastern and northern England around 900 introduced words of Old Norse origin that entered, intermingled, and competed with those of Old English. The Old English nosþyrel, (“nose-hole”, or “hole through which the nose breathes”, [here “þ” is the letter thorn, written nowadays as “th”]) won out over Old Norse nǫs, becoming our current nostril. But, Old English eagþyrel (“eye-hole”, or “hole through which the eye sees”) eventually lost out to Old Norse vindauga (“wind-eye”, originally referring to an unglazed hole in a roof) which became our window, instead of a hypothetical eyetril.
Clery, Val. 1979. Windows. A Studio Book. New York: Viking Press.