Sunday, March 27, 2011

Snippets, connections

1. From Dainty Ballerina, an account of the wedding of James I's daughter Elizabeth. A lot of "white Satten," much "Pearle and Golde," and more than a whiff of Spenserian influence:
Upon her head a crowne of refined golde, made imperiall by the Pearles and Dyamonds thereupon placed, which were so thicke beset that they stood like shining pinnacles.  Upon her amber coloured haire, hanging plaited down over her shoulders to her Waste, betweene every plaight Gold spangles, Pearles, Riche stones, and Diamonds, and many Diamonds of inestimable value embroidered upon her sleeves, which dazzled and amazed the eyes of the beholders.

2. A crash blossom, of sorts, in an old issue of the Daily Illini left in the men's room: "Anti-gay bullying victim remembered at vigil." The sense is obvious upon reflection -- this is about one of those teenage suicides last year -- but the natural way to read the headline is as if the victim were anti-gay: "All those PC bullies!"

3. I quoted Randall Jarrell on Auden yesterday: "Auden [...] lies back in himself as if he were an unmade bed." This strongly reminded me of something but I couldn't, at the time, quite place it; it's Catullus 31:
O quid solutis est beatius curis,
cum mens onus reponit, ac peregrino
labore fessi venimus larem ad nostrum,
desideratoque acquiescimus lecto?
("O what is happier than when, all cares resolved, the mind puts down its burden, and we come exhausted with the labor of travel to our home, and rest on the longed-for bed?") This passage has an amusingly high density of false friends. I've always loved the idea of acquiescing in one's bed -- it is precisely what one fails to do a lot of the time -- and Jarrell's line uses the same association in reverse.

4. In case you missed the addendum to the sloth/sleuth post, "sleuth" appears to come from the same Norse root as "slot." A sleuth is originally a slot, or groove, or trail, left by an animal, then becomes an elliptic term for a tracking dog or sleuth-hound, and finally the sleuth-hound becomes a detective by metaphoric extension. I am frustratingly unable to come up with the right technical term for this device, but there must be something more precise than "metaphor."

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