Vale is an archaic, poeticized term for valley, a word that likely has its origins in the Greek oasis, taken by the Greeks from the Arabic word wadi, meaning a low-lying area or depression—one often, as a landscape feature, hidden and a well-kept secret, of great significance because this is where water can be found. In English we have “vale of tears” for life itself. There is a kind of visible onomatopoeia in the word, as though it contains within itself the visual shape of its meaning. V is a declivity, the shape of the land rising on either side. The rest of the word is fluid, the flow of the vowels through the V like the river flowing through the valley.

Susan Brind Morrow