You Don’t SayA compendium of odd words and literary references
|This page contains a list of mostly old-fashioned (and in many cases obsolete) words and literary references that either appeal to my strange sense of humor or that I find intriguing in some way. Although it’s of little concern, a few of these terms might even prove useful someday. Some are taken from my favorite dictionary, Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1924. Others are from my musty 1948 edition of|
The Reader’s Encyclopedia, edited by William Rose Benét. Why do I do it? Looking through these books and posting my findings is another way to keep sanity at bay, and to take a break from ramming my head against a literary wall.
— William Michaelian
Adamastor. (1) The spirit of the stormy Cape (Good Hope), described by Camoëns in the Lusiad as a hideous phantom that appears to Vasco da Gama and prophesies disaster to all seeking to make the voyage to India. (2) Title of a book of poems by Roy Campbell (1930).
maig, n. A large or awkward hand. Scot. & Dial. Eng.
Teresa d’Acunha. The Spanish maid of the Countess of Glenallan in Scott’s novel The Antiquary, of whom it is said, “If ever there was a fiend on earth in human form, that woman was ane.”
majoon, n. An East Indian confection made of hemp leaves, henbane, datura seeds, poppy seeds, honey, and ghee. It produces effects similar to those of hashish and opium.
Mrs. Caroline Grandison. In Meredith’s Richard Feverel, a “colorless lady of an unequivocal character, living upon drugs and governing her husband and the world from her sofa.”
pistic, a. Of, pert. to, or exhibiting, faith.
Pisistratus (d. 527 B.C.). Tyrant of Athens. Presented the city with many splendid buildings. He was a patron of literature, and it was probably during his rule that dramatic contests were first introduced. According to Cicero and Pausanias, Pisistratus was instrumental in one phase of the Homeric literary tradition. The simple interpretation that this signified that “Pisistratus first committed the poems of Homer to writing and reduced them to the order in which we now read them” (F. A. Wolf, Prolegomena), is now generally discarded.
pistick, n. Pistachio. Obs.
Opie Percival Read (1852-1939). American humorist who wrote many novels. The Jucklins (1895) is said to have sold over a million copies.
jink, n. A chinking sound; also, chink, or money. Dial. Eng.
Jip. In Dickens’ David Copperfield, the pet dog of David’s child wife, Dora.
jinkle, v. i. To jink, or move jerkily. Rare.
Hobbididance. In Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear, the prince of dumbness, and one of the five fiends that possessed “poor Tom.” This name is taken from Harsnett’s Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures (1561-1631).
gubbertushed, a. [Cf. gobber tooth.] Having projecting teeth.
quiddity. The essence of a thing, or that which differentiates it from other things — “the Correggiosity of Correggio,” “the Freeness of the Free.” Hence it is used of subtle, trifling distinctions, quibbles, or captious argumentation.
guddle, v. To catch (fish) with the hands by groping in their lurking places. Scot.
The Union Magazine. A magazine (1847-1852), chiefly remembered because in it were first published Poe’s poems To Helen and The Bells, his essay The Poetic Principle, and stories by William G. Simms.
navy bean, n. The common dried white bean of commerce.
University Wits. Term applied to a group of brilliant young English writers of the later years of the 16th century, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who had received their training at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Among these, chiefly playwrights and pamphleteers, the latter known for their polemics and their contributions to the “Rogue Literature” of the day, were Robert Greene, Gabriel Harvey, Thomas Lodge, John Lyly, Christopher Marlowe, and Thomas Nash.
mum house, n. An alehouse. Obs.
The Unpopular Review. A quarterly (1914-1921) which had as contributors Paul Elmer More, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Mary Austin and Amy Lowell. In 1919 it changed its name to The Unpartisan Review.
kewkaw, kewwaw, adv. Upside down; awry. Obs.
Joconde. A tale by La Fontaine (1665), which is a paraphrase of an episode in Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, where Joconde is known as Giocondo. The hero, a wondrous breaker of hearts, is called to dispute his skill in this art with Astolpho. He discovers first his own, then Astolpho’s wife in secret love affairs, but the two heroes can think of no better way to revenge themselves on the sex than by breaking more hearts. The tale was made into a farce by Fagan (1740), and into two comic operas, the first by Deforge (1790), the second by Etienne and Nicolo (1814).
relume, v. To rekindle; to light again. “I know not where is that Promethean heat / That can thy light relume. Shak.
Ada Rehan (1860-1916). Irish-born American actress. Played over 200 parts in the company of Augustin Daly (1879-1899). Especially known for Shakespearean roles.
chickabiddy, n. A chicken; also, in trivial endearment, a child.
Monzaemon Chikamatsu (1653-?1724). Japanese romantic dramatist. Sometimes called “the Shakespeare of Japan.” Created new type of drama. Composed nearly one hundred five-act plays, half of which are still produced or read.
gleek, n. An obsolete game at cards for three players; also, three aces or three face cards of the same rank in one hand; hence, a trio. Obs.
The Fitz Boodle Papers. A series of sketches and tales by Thackeray. The principal character is a lazy young nobleman named George Savage Fitz Boodle, with a flair for Bohemian life.
plumade, n. A plume on horses in funeral processions. Obs.
Anna Livia Plurabelle. In James Joyce’s monumental novel Finnegan’s Wake, the personifcation of the Irish river Liffey, which flows through Dublin, and in general symbolic of the feminine principle of the universe, as Humphrey Chimden Earwicker generally represents the masculine principle. Anna Livia is frequently invoked throughout the book by her identifying initials, ALP.
plum duff, n. A plain flour pudding containing raisins or currants, boiled in a bag or cloth.
Christopher Crowfield. A pseudonym of Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Nutmeg State, Connecticut : — a nickname alluding to the accusation, jocosely made, that in that State wooden nutmegs are manufactured and palmed off on purchasers as genuine.
Dun Edin. Poetical name of Edinburgh.
logolatry, n. Undue regard to literalness of words. Rare.
ducking stool. A chair used for the punishment of commons scolds, disorderly women, dishonest apprentices, etc. It was so fastened to a beam projecting over a pond or river that the culprit seated in it could be submerged at will. The term cucking stool (from O.E. cuck, “to void excrement”), so called because it resembled a closestool, was sometimes used for the same apparatus, but more often for a stool in which dishonest tradesmen were exposed in front of their shops to the pelting and hooting of the mob. “Now, if one cucking-stool was for each scold, / Some towns, I fear, would not their numbers hold. Poor Robin (1746)
quaggle, n. A quivering, as of jelly. Dial. Eng.
Quangle Wangle Quee. A creature in Edward Lear’s nonsense poem, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat.
market beter, A swaggerer or loiterer about markets. Obs.
Battle of the Books. A satire, by Swift (written 1697, published 1704), on the literary squabble as to the comparative value of ancient and modern authors. In the battle the ancient books fight against the modern books in St. James’ Library. Hence any controversy between literary men is so called.
hey pass, An exclamation used by jugglers. Obs.
Hesychasts. (from Gr. hesychos, “still, calm”). A sect of mystics or quietists in the Eastern Church, who lived on Mount Athos in the 14th century. They aimed to attain by contemplating their navel perfect serenity and supernatural insight which enabled them to feel, diffused through them, an uncreated but communicable divine light, the same which shone on Mt. Tabor at the transfiguration of Christ.
flummadiddle, n. Also flumadiddle, flumdiddle, flummydiddle. Nonsense; balderdash; humbug; something trivial or silly; flummery. Colloq.
Darrel of the Blessed Isles. A novel by Irving Bacheller (1903), concerning an old clock-maker who dwells in the “Blessed Isles” of the imagination.
mafflard, n. A bungler; addlepate. Obs.
Gargamelle. In Rabelais’ satire Gargantua and Pantagruel, daughter of the king of the Parpaillons (butterflies), wife of Grangousier, and mother of Gargantua. On the day that she gives birth to him she eats sixteen quarters, two bushels, three pecks, and a pipkin of dirt, the mere remains left in the tripe which she had for supper; for, as the prover says — Scrape tripe as clean as e’er you can, / A tithe of filth will still remain. She is said to be meant either for Anne of Brittany, or Catherine de Foix, queen of Navarre.
Oldbuck, Jonathan, The Laird of Monkbarus, a whimsical virtuoso whose hobby gives the name to Scott’s novel “The Antiquary.” He is devoted to the study and accumulation of old coins and medals, and every kind of Roman relics. From early disappointment in love, he is a misogynist, but humorous, kind-hearted, and true.
The Single Hound. The title of a book of poems by Emily Dickinson, edited and published (1914) by her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi. It takes its title from the first poem which runs: Adventure must unto itself / The soul condemned to be; / Attended by a Single Hound — / Its own identity.
ooze leather, Leather made from sheep and calf skins by mechanically forcing ooze through them; esp., such leather with a soft, finely granulated finish (called sometimes velvet finish) put on the flesh side for special purposes. Ordinary ooze leather is used for shoe uppers, in book-binding, etc. Hence ooze calf, ooze finish, etc.
Roisin Dubh. An Irish metaphorical name for Ireland. It means literally, “dark little rose.”
mabble, v. To wrap up; to muffle. Obs.
Narenschiff. A satire of the late Middle Ages by Sebastian Brandt, written in Swabian dialect, first published in 1494. It deals with the assembling of fools of all sorts from many countries and their transportation to the Land of Fools. It became very popular in Europe. Alexander Barclay translated it and adapted its theme in terms of the English life of his time under the title of The Ship of Fools, published in 1509.
spadroon, n. A long, heavy sword, usually two-handed, formerly used in warfare and in ceremonies of state.
A Dissertation on Roast Pig. One of the most famous of the Essays of Elia by Charles Lamb.
ballow. a, A word occurring in Drayton’s “Polyolbion,” usually said to mean, gaunt.
Leodogrance of Camiliard. In Arthurian romance, the father of Guinevere, wife of King Arthur. Uther Pendragon once gave him the famous Round Table, which can seat 150 knights, and when Arthur marries Guinevere, Leodogrance gives him the table and 100 knights as a wedding gift.
cohonestation, n. Honoring; gracing. Obs.
Merry as a grig. A grig is a cricket, or grasshopper, but it is by no means certain that the animal is referred to in this phrase, which is at least as old as the mid-sixteenth century. Grig here may be a corruption of Greek, as in “merry as a Greek,” which dates from about the same time. Shakespeare has: “Then she’s a merry Greek”; and again, “Cressid ’mongst the merry Greeks” (Troilus and Cressida, i. 2; iv. 4). Among the Romans, graecari signified “to play the reveller.”
isobath, a. Having constant depth; — applied to a kind of inkstand in which the ink in the dipping well is automatically maintained at a constant depth.
The Whole History of Grandfather’s Chair. A volume of children’s stories by Hawthorne (1840-1842). The tales include episodes in early American history, chiefly stories of persons who might have sat in the chair given to Lady Arabella Johnson by her father, the Earl of Lincoln.
moor gallop, A sudden squall moving across the moors. Dial. Eng.
Dink Stover. The hero of Owen Johnson’s Varmint (1910) and its sequels, The Tennessee Shad (1911) and Stover at Yale (1911).
nonsubstantialism, n. The doctrine of the unreality of phenomena; denial of substance.
The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg. A novel by Louis Bromfield (1928), dealing with the lives and personalities of a group of unusual characters as they are revealed through the events arising from the mysterious death of an American spinster living abroad.
rawhead, n. A specter mentioned to frighten children; as rawhead and bloodybones.
Torquato Tasso. (1544-1595). Italian poet, author of Jerusalem Delivered. After the publication of his great epic, Tasso lived in the court of Ferrara and, according to legend, conceived a violent passion for Leonora, one of the Duke’s sisters, but fled in 1577 to Naples. After an absence of two years, he returned to his patron, the Duke of Ferrara. For seven years (1579-1586), he was imprisoned as a lunatic. He is the hero of Goethe’s drama Tasso (1789) and of Byron’s poem The Lament of Tasso (1817).
morebose, a. Morbid; diseased. Obs.
Henry James Pye. (1745-1813). English poet laureate (1790). He wrote patriotic verses and is considered one of the least of the poets laureate.
mundatory, a. Cleansing; having the power to cleanse. Obs.
Isokeha and Tawiskara. In Iroquois myth, twin brothers, symbols of light and darkness. Isokeha, “the White One,” vanquished his brother Tawiskara, “the Dark One” and became the father of mankind and special protector of the Iroquois.
rhema, n. A verb; word; term.
forty-eightmo. A book composed of sheets so folded that each sheet yields 48 leaves or 96 pages, the page being usually about 2¼ x 4 inches. Also 48mo.
slubber-de-gullion, n. A mean wretch; a base, slovenly boor. Obs. or Dial.
Maister Gowk-thrapple. In Scott’s Waverly, a covenanting preacher. “A man of coarse, mechanical, perhaps rather intrinsically feeble intellect, with the vehemence of some pulpit-drumming Gowk-thrapple.” — Carlyle.
egg trot, An easy, cautious trot, as if carrying eggs; — called also eggwife’s trot.
Estrildis. In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the daughter of a German king, and handmaid to the mythical King Humber. When Humber is drowned in the river that bears his name, Locrine falls in love with Estrildis, and would have married her, were he not betrothed already to Guendoloena; but he has by her a daughter named Sabrina.
The Flower and the Leaf. A late Middle English allegorical poem in rhyme royal, of unknown authorship, once attributed to Chaucer.
Rhyme royal. A stanza of seven lines of heroic or five-foot iambic verse, rhyming ababbcc. It was called rhyme royal from James I of Scotland who was both king and poet, and was also widely known as Troilus verse because Chaucer employed it in his Troilus and Criseyde, the first stanza of which is as follows:
The double sorwe of Troilus to tellen,
That was the king Priamus sone of Troye,
In Iovinge, how his aventures fellen
Fro wo to wele, and after out of joye,
My purpos is, er that I part fro ye,
Thesiphone, thou help me for t’endyte
Thise woful verse that wepen as I wryte.
Rhymes to be Traded for Bread. An early collection of poems by Vachel Lindsay actually composed upon his travels through the West, when he was making the experiment of exchanging his rhymes for a night’s lodging on the road. Cf. his Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (1914).
Frank Leslie. Original name Henry Carter (1821-1880). English-born American engraver and publisher of illustrated journals, as Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper (founded in 1855). He died in poverty, but after his death, his wife, Miriam Florence Leslie, née Follin (1836?-1914) legally changed her name to Frank Leslie (1882) and successfully continued his publishing venture.
Horvendile. A strange youth who appears in Cabell’s novels of medieval Poictesme, particularly in The Cream of the Jest. In Figures of Earth, he confesses to Manuel that he is, perhaps, insane, for “all of you appear to me to be persons I have imagined: and all the living in this world appears to me to be only a notion of mine.”
Master Froth. In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, a foolish gentleman, too shallow for a great crime and too light for virtue.
frozen music. Architecture. So called by Friedrich von Schlegel in his Philosophie der Kunst.
fly-by-night. One who defrauds his creditors by decamping at night-time; also the early name of a sedan-chair, and later a horsed vehicle (hence fly cab) designed in 1809 for speed.
Etchepars. The central figure in Brieux’s Red Robe, a peasant accused of murder and helpless in the coils of the law.
The Red Robe (La Robe rouge). A drama by Eugene Brieux (Fr., 1900). The lawyers Mouzon and Vagret, in their ambition to win the red robe of a judge (an honor based, in France, on the number of convictions), completely wreck the happiness of the peasant Etchepars, who has been falsely accused of murder, by destroying his wife’s good name. Vagret realizes his selfishness in time and loses promotion; Mouzon is promoted, but is stabbed by the peasant’s wife, Yanetta.
Puck of Pook’s Hill. A book of tales for children by Rudyard Kipling (1906).
Pulcherie. In George Sand’s Lélia, the sister and physical double of Lélia.
Trouillogan’s advice. None at all; “yes and no.” In Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, when Pantagruel asks the philosopher Trouillogan whether Panurge should marry or not, the reply is “Yes.” “What say you,” asks the prince. “What you have heard,” answers Trouillogan. “What have I heard?” says Pantagruel. “What I have spoken,” rejoins the sage. “Good,” says the prince; “but tell me plainly, shall Panurge marry or let it alone?” “Neither,” answers the oracle. “How?” says the prince; “that cannot be.” “Then both,” says Trouillogan.
John Bull. The national nickname for an Englishman, represented as a bluff, kindhearted, bull-headed farmer. The character is from Dr. Arbuthnot’s satire The History of John Bull, which was originally published in 1712 as Law is a Bottomless Pit. John Bull is the Englishman, the Frenchman is termed Lewis Baboon, the Dutchman Nicholas Frog, etc.
“One would think, in personifying itself, a nation would . . . picture something grand, heroic, and imposing, but it is characteristic of the peculiar humour of the English, and of their love for what is blunt, comic and familiar, that they have embodied their national oddities in the figure of a sturdy, corpulent old fellow . . . with red waistcoat, leather breeches, and a stout oaken cudgel . . . [whom they call] John Bull.” — Washington Irving.
In the early years of the 19th century there was a scurrilous journal of this name, and in the early years of the 20th (1906) the name was adopted for a British weekly edited by Mr. Horatio Bottomley. Owing to the fact that it forms a convenient vent for all sorts of real and imaginary grievances, the phrase Why not write to John Bull about it? is sometimes heard.
George Bernard Shaw has a play entitled John Bull’s Other Island (1904), concerned with the Irish question.
frush, v. 1. To batter; crush; break. Obs. 2. To carve (a chicken) or dress (a chub). Obs. 3. To rub; scratch; polish. Obs. 4. To set in order (arrow feathers). Obs. or Hist.
jubarb, n. The houseleek. Obs.
knosp, n. A knop; a boss. —knosped, a.
fayllard, n. Failer; delinquent. Obs.
Huggins and Muggins. Two characters of popular legend who personify vulgarity and false pretensions. They were frequently introduced in comic literature of the 19th century. The phrase may be a corruption of the Dutch Hooge en Mogende (high and mighty) or may possibly be derived from Hugin and Munin, Odin’s two ravens of Scandinavian myth.
A Star in a Stone-boat. A poem by Robert Frost, the first in the volume New Hampshire. In New England, a stone-boat is a kind of sledge used to drag stones for building walls, etc.
Elizabeth Minshell. Third wife of John Milton, who was only twenty-four years old when she married him in 1663 and lived a number of years after his death.
The Great God Brown. A play by Eugene O’Neill, produced in 1926, in which masks are used to symbolize the varying personalities of the characters as they are and as they appear to other people. “The Great God Brown” is a wealthy man, devoid of inner character or spiritual resources, who takes the mask of Dion Anthony, a frustrated artist who dies, and wearing it, is accepted as Dion by Dion’s wife, for she has known and loved only her husband’s mask, not his true self.
olla-podrida (Span.). A hodgepodge or miscellaneous collection. In the Latin countries an olla is a water jar or cooking pot of baked clay and podrida means “rotten.”
Captain Lebyadkin. In Dostoevsky’s The Possessed, an army captain, simultaneously crafty, comically pompous, and proud, who seeks to extort money from Nikolay Stavrogin, his brother-in-law, for the support of his sister Marya, and also to blackmail Stavrogin. The captain writes poetry to Lizaveta Nikolaevna Tushin and, in a manner alternately cringing and insolent, offers to be her protector.
Marya Timofyevna Lebyadkin. The captain’s sister, a pathetic crippled idiot, one of the best examples of Dostoevsky’s studies of abnormal psychology. Stavrogin, in part to make a martyr of himself and in part as a weird joke, has married her secretly and continues to treat her, half-ironically, with the utmost gallantry and respect while his family and associates try to decide whether or not an actual marriage has taken place.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892- ). American poet, one of the best known and financially most successful poets of her time. She became famous during the 1920’s for her poems celebrating love and unfaithfulness and the right of women to as much freedom in matters of morals as men, presented with a flippancy and bravado that expressed the spirit of the period. Later she became interested in liberal causes, but her subject-matter changed little. In form her poetry is conventional and shows the influence of the Elizabethan and 17th-century lyricists. Her books of verse include Renascence, and Other Poems (1917); A Few Figs from Thistles (1920); Second April (1921); The Harp Weaver, and Other Poems (1923), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1923; The Buck in the Snow (1928); Fatal Interview (1931); Wine from These Grapes (1934); Flowers of Evil (1936), translations of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal; Conversation at Midnight (1937); Huntsman, What Quarry? (1939); Make Bright the Arrows (1940).
Edna St. Vincent Millay for a while early in her career lived in Greenwich Village and wrote short stories under the name of Nancy Boyd. She also was associated with the Provincetown Players as an actress and playwright. Her verse plays are Two Slatterns and a King, Moral Interlude, and The Lamp and the Bell (1921); and The King’s Henchman (1926), produced in 1927 and later presented in operatic form at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, with music by Deems Taylor. The Murder of Lidice (1942) is a radio play in verse.
Hymir. In Scandinavian mythology, a giant with a frosty beard who personifies the inhospitable sea. He owned the kettle in which the gods brewed their ale, and it was he who took Thor in his boat when that god went to kill the Midgard serpent, and robbed him of his prey.
Hound and Horn. A literary magazine founded at Harvard University in 1927, later moving to New York. Until it ceased publication in 1934 it published the work of the leading poets and prose writers of the time, many of whom were unknown when they first appeared in its pages. Among these are T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Allen Tate, Ezra Pound, and Kenneth Burke.
Billy Barlow. A street droll, a merry-andrew; so called from a half-idiot of the name, who fancied himself some great personage. He was well known in the East of London in the early half of the 19th century, and died in Whitechapel workhouse. Some of his sayings were really witty, and some of his attitudes really droll.
Niobe. The personification of maternal sorrow. According to Grecian fable, Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus and wife of Amphion, King of Thebes, was the mother of twelve children, and taunted Latona because she had only two — Apollo and Diana. Latona commanded her children to avenge the insult, and the caused all the sons and daughters of Niobe to die. Niobe was inconsolable, wept herself to death, and was changed into a stone, from which ran water, “like Niobe, all tears” (Hamlet, 1.2.). the Niobe of nations. So Byron styles Rome, the “lone mother of dead empires, in Childe Harold.
Childe Harold. Byron’s poem which depicts a man sated of the world, who roams from place to place to flee from himself. The “Childe” is, in fact, Lord Byron himself, who was only twenty-one when he began, and twenty-eight when he finished the poem. In canto I (1809), he visits Portugal and Spain; in canto II (1810), Turkey and Europe; in canto III (1816), Belgium and Switzerland; and in canto IV (1817), Venice, Rome, and Florence. The French composer Berlioz based his overture Harold en Italie on Byron’s poem.
Children of Ler. In Irish legend the children of Ler, the Celtic Neptune, were transformed by his second wife into swans, with power to speak and to sing for thrice three hundred years.
Chills and Fever. A volume of poems by John Crowe Ransom.
frog. A frog and mouse agreed to settle by single combat their claims to a marsh; but, while they fought, a kite carried them both off. (Aesop, Fables, clxviii.) Old Aesop’s fable, where he told / What fate unto the mouse and frog befel. — Cary, Dante, cxxiii.
In Ovid’s Metamorphoses (vi. 4) we are told that the Lycian shepherds were changed into frogs for mocking Latona. As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs / Railed at Latona’s twin-born progeny. — Milton, Sonnet, vii.
Deor’s Lament. An ancient Anglo-Saxon poem, in which a wandering bard laments his having been cut off by his former lord and seeks consolation in the thought of the greater misfortunes of legendary Germanic heroes and heroines. It is divided into uneven stanzas by a refrain, translated as: “Yet his trouble passed; so can mine.”
Francisco de Figueroa (1536?-1620). Spanish poet and soldier; master of blank verse.
blank verse. Rhymeless verse. In English prosody the term refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter. Shakespeare and Milton wrote almost entirely in blank verse. The quality of mercy is not strained / It droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven / Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed. — Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.
fooliaminy, n. Fool; a body of fools. Obs.
foolocracy, a. a Government by fools. b Ruling class of fools. Facetious or Contemptuous.
foolometer, n. A standard by which to measure folly. Facetious.
foolosopher, n. A fool posing as a philosopher. Facetious.
Bar-le-Duc. A jam made from seeded currants at Bar-le-Duc, France.
Sir John Barleycorn. Malt-liquor personified. In the old song of that title written down by Robert Burns, his neighbors vowed that Sir John should die, so they hired ruffians to “plough him with ploughs and bury him”; this they did, and afterwards “combed him with harrows and thrust clods on his head,” but did not kill him by these or by numerous other means which they attempted. Sir John bore no malice for this ill usage, but did his best to cheer the flagging spirits even of his worse persecutors. Hence the name is used for an innkeeper.
Jack London wrote a volume called John Barleycorn (1913), an autobiography which he described as his “alcoholic memories.”
Louis Untermeyer. (1885- ). American poet and anthologist. Widely known for his collections of American and British poetry which have gone into all the schools of the country. His own poetry and parodies have been collected in several volumes. He is a fine lyric writer and as a parodist has few equals today. In his early years he was a contributing editor of The Liberator and The Seven Arts. His translations of Heine are among the best of our time. Cf. his autobiography, From Another World (1939).
Sappho. (fl. ca. 600 B.C.). The famous Greek poetess of Lesbos, known as the “tenth Muse.” She is fabled to have thrown herself into the sea from the Leucadian promontory because her advances had been rejected by the beautiful youth Phaon.
The subject has frequently been treated in literature, notably in Lyly’s comedy Sappho and Phaon (1584) and Percy MacKaye’s poetic drama Sappho and Phaon (1907). Sara Teasdale has a poem entitled Sappho.
Pope used the name in his Moral Essays (II) for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. It has also been given to a number of woman poets of varying powers, among whom are the following:
the English Sappho. Mrs. Mary D. Robinson (1758-1800).
the French Sappho. Mlle Scudéry (1607-1701).
the Scotch Sappho. Catherine Cockburn (1679-1749).
the American Sappho. Mrs. Sarah Wentworth Morton (1759-1846) was so called. Her chief narrative poem was Ouabi or The Virtues of Nature (1790).
the Sappho of Toulouse. Clémence Isaure (ca. 1450-1500). She composed an Ode to Spring.
Trumbull Stickney. (1874-1904). American poet. Dramatic Verses (1902) and The Poems of Trumbull Stickney (1905). The latter were edited by George Cabot Lodge, William Vaughn Moody, and J.E. Lodge. Conrad Aiken and Alfred Kreymborg have included selections from his work in their anthologies. Van Wyck Brooks and Edmund Wilson have spoken of him as a writer of achievement.
The Soul of Pedro Garcias. Money. The story told in the Preface of Le Sage’s romance Gil Blas, is that two scholars of Salamanca discovered a tombstone with this inscription: “Here lies the soul of the licentiate Pedro Garcias.” On searching they found a purse with a hundred golden ducats.
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898). French poet and teacher, leader of the school of Symbolism and formulator of its aesthetic theories. Influenced by the work of Baudelaire, Poe, Verlaine, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Mallarmé’s poetry is marked by elliptical phrases, unusual syntax, and condensed figures, each poem being built about a central symbol, idea, or metaphor and consisting of subordinate images that illustrate and help to develop the idea. The Afternoon of a Faun (L’Aprés-midi d’un faune), The Swan (Le Cygne), Hérodiade, and Le Tombeau d’ Edgar Poe (The Tomb of Edgar Poe) are outstanding examples of Mallarmé’s method. A volume of Poems by him was translated by Roger Fry in 1936.
Fionnuala. The daughter of Lir in old Irish legend, who was transformed into a swan, and condemned to wander over the lakes and rivers of Ireland till the introduction of Christianity into that island. Moore has a poem on the subject in his Irish Melodies.
Victor Bérard (1864-1931). French scholar and publicist. Translator of the Odyssey.
kenning. In Anglo-Saxon poetry, a figure of speech by which a descriptive circumlocution is used in place of the common noun; as in “whale-road” or “gannet’s bath” for “sea,” “wave-traveler” for “ship,” and “ash-wood” for “spear.” Beowulf contains a number of excellent examples of kennings.
Guido Gezelle (1830-1899). The mystical poet of Flanders who has been called “the soul of Flanders, a natural and a national poet.”
The Day of the Rabblement. An attack upon the Irish national theater movement written by James Joyce (1901). It marked the beginning of life-long hostility between Joyce and the leading figures of the Irish literary Renaissance.
Guillaume de Cabestaing, or Cabestan. Late 12th-century Provençal troubadour. According to legend loved Marguerite, wife of Raymond of Château Roussillon, slain by the husband who cooked Cabestaing’s heart and served it to his wife, who when she learned she had eaten it committed suicide by starvation. Richard Aldington wrote a poem about this, The Eaten Heart.
Simonides of Ceos. Greek poet of the late sixth century B.C. Remembered particularly for his odes, elegies, epigrams, etc. His work exists only in fragments.
Ormulum. A Middle English religious and didactic poem, written in Northeast Midland dialect (ca. 1200). It consists of paraphrases of the gospels and homilies based on them, and was only one-eighth completed although it is almost 10,000 lines in length. Metrically, it is in iambic lines of fifteen syllables. Its unique feature is its orthography, in which the author tried to indicate pronunciation by means of special signs and called attention to a short vowel by doubling the consonant that followed it, as wordess for “wordes.” The title Ormulum is interpreted as a diminutive form of the author’s name, Orm.
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Another Song I Know
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