Here's the image: where's the tale?

"The Little Mermaid"

She appears on the cover of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. She is the product of the imagination of a 6 year old in Sweden.

She appears to be missing the ubiquitous tail. But don't forget that this is a story of transformation. And the hair is perfect!

Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen With 25 Illustrations in Full Color by Children of Eighteen Nations (Orion Press, [1958])

And so for day 1538
28.02.2011

Audio Accompaniment

What is the best music to have in the background while reading Virginia Woolf's The Waves?

Thursday Afternoon by Brian Eno — at 61 minutes it's suitable for the long duration of an immersion into the novel.

"We make music in new ways, and we hear music in new places." notes by C.S.J. BOFOP [Brian Eno], August 1985.

And so for day 1537
27.02.2011

Three Temporalities of Agony

Janine Beichman. Masaoka Shiki (Boston: Twayne Publications, 1982).

From 1895 on, though he was uncertain when death would come, Shiki lived each day with its presence unbearably close. Time as he experienced it had qualities it does not have for most healthy people. First, it moved unbearably slowly and seemed extremely long, so that boredom was one of his chief torments. Second, and paradoxically, it seemed very short, moving swiftly and inexorably toward his own death. A sense of urgency, as expressed in the letter of 1895 about Kyoshi, coexisted with a sense of enormous tedium. Thirdly, time had no firmly imaginable future, for he felt he could not plan for more than a few hours ahead. There was only a past and a present. Death, though he knew it would come, was a darkness, unimaginable; he did not believe in an afterlife. These are the qualities time has when experienced in the midst of great anxiety over a portending and dreaded, but in some ways desired, event.
Ueno yama
yū koekureba
mori kurami
kedamono hoyuru
kedamono no sono
as evening comes across
Ueno Hill
the woods grow dark and
wild beasts howl in
the wild beast garden
itatsuki no
iyuru hi shirani
saniwabe ni
akikusabana no
tane o makashimu
I do not know the day
my pain will end yet
in the little garden
I had them plant
seeds of autumn flowers

Translation and romanization by Janine Beichman accessed at the Japanese Text Initiative at the University of Virginia Library.

And so for day 1536
26.02.2011

Galloping Lope

Slide into image and mind-set.

GENTLE SLOPE INTO BOOK

You be the person who sweeps
and I'll be the one who turns off
the lights at the end of the poem.
Sweepings.
Nations used to center on individuals, then on collectives, and now nations organize around points in a power grid, centers on transaction. Of flux: nodes in a matrix, they follow pulses and search for energetic aggregates; my body nomads through cities, my body acts as a house for a worker; poems or nations startle, shift and settle.

from "Canada Post"
This is a sharp example of how one word leads to another by phonological lines of attraction. Here is one that leads to semantic explosion.
Don't scarf down your blueberry pancakes before tennis lessons or you'll get indigestion and make a horrible racket.

from "Skyscraperscrapers"
Brought to you by Jason Christie in his collection Canada Post

And so for day 1535
25.02.2011

Broccoli Ancestry

Visual intertextuality.

The cover of Tyler Kord's Broccoli (Short Stack Vol. 7) appears to be a tribute to Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.


Branches. Upright & Bold.

And so for day 1534
24.02.2011

Out of Storage

Notes to Laurie Anderson Homeland

MEETING THE TUVANS.
After the show the Tuvans were packing their instruments and then they started to walk off into the night. "Hey! Where are you going?" I shouted out into the darkness. As it turned out their Russian manager had forgotten to provide transportation for them back to Lisbon, a two-hour car drive. So they just started to walk, a trip that would have taken until well into the next day. Why? Because they're nomads, the polar opposite of exasperated Americans who would just stand there saying, "Where's the van?"
Fun to juxtapose against the later remarks about storytelling.
POLITCS AND STORIES.
Many of the big American stories now, the most-told stories, are apocalyptic. They're stories about how the world is getting hotter, more crowded, and dangerous. They're about arctic floods and disappearing resources and entropy and the world winding down. And nobody knows whether all this is fiction or not. But like many complicated stories about the future, there's no way to predict which version is more likely. It's just sort of a matter of preference. It comes down to which story do you like better? This is another thing I love about stories — they are wild and alive and always changing.

What are days for?
To wake us up.
To put between endless nights.
Whether we are waiting for the van or walking.

And so for day 1533
23.02.2011

Earth Spell

The opening lines of "With the Earth of the Garden Still on Them"

My hands with the earth of the garden still on them,
dirt worked under the nails, into the creases of knuckle, palm,
life line, heart line. Sullen smell of diesel exhaust.
move from a horticultural activity ingrained into the very palmistry of the hand to stench that is of another organic chemistry that of hydrocarbons. This poet, she is an urban gardener attuned to diversity. See the anaphoric stroll down a street in "June Elegy" which takes in the views offered by various yards.
The yard that has room in its heart for
one rosebush.
The yard with slim yellow irises.
The yard with gravel.
The yard with the wrought-iron fence,
box hedge; the gate snapping shut.
[…]
The yard with columbine and columbine and columbine.
[…]
The yard with garbage cans.
The yard with tricycles.
With sunlight.
Trash.
The yard with snow-in-summer, honey locust,
star-of-Bethlehem, periwinkle,
in bloom.
Rhea Tregebov (alive)

And so for day 1532
22.02.2011

Recursive Remarks on the Recursive

The interpolated is not the recursive.

Faas: Is there any modern music which you feel moves in directions you follow in your poetry?

Creeley: Well, sure, Cage is fascinating to me, for example. I've been fascinated by re-qualifications of senses of "serial order." I was reading a text called The Psychology of Communication, by George A. Miller. For example, the human situation has difficulty regaining the context if there is something interpolated, like: "That man, whom you saw yesterday, is my father." "That man is my father" is the basic statement — "whom you saw yesterday," is the element that's being inserted. This is also applicable to computer structure. If you keep putting statements into the basic statement, after about three or four such insertions, the hearer or witness gets very, very confused. The human attention apparently is not recursive and tends to be always where it is, so the more there is interpolated in that fashion the more difficult it is for the human to regain locus. And Miller points out that we can usually pick up where we left off in a simply physical context. Painting a fence. for instance, we know where we stopped because there is the new paint, physically it is. Poetry obviously is a way to regain a situation in the recursive that is to remind us where we are constantly by a structure. Now I am fascinated by what happens when we aren't so reminded, when we break and move into different patterns to locate the experience of being somewhere, and that's what I find extraordinary with Cage: the attempt to requalify the experience of serial order, which to me is really crucial.

From Ekbert Faas, Towards A New American Poetics: Essays and Interviews
Fine. But the interpolated is not necessarily the recursive. I point to narratology and the term "metalepsis". where it describes a crossing of narrative levels. The interpolated is a mere insertion. A recursive insertion involves levels. A series with curves.

But the trick, for the reader, is to distinguish mere insertion from the recursive. In Creeley's remarks we have a whole bunch of material interpolated between mentions of Cage and "serial order". Just how recursive the remarks about regaining locus are remains to be judged.

Presentation order at the surface may not reflect order at the base. The basic may be the perceiving in temporal yesterday ("That man"). It may be the kernel. The fact that the man "is my father" may be an addition. Next element in a series. Grammatical embedding aside.

And so for day 1531
21.02.2011

Coming Out of the War

Teacraft: A Treasury of Romance, Rituals & Recipes by Charles and Violet Schaffer (San Francisco: Yerba Buena Press, 1975)

Our authors offer us the reminiscence of a character dubbed "Our Man" about the time some thirty years ago [1940s] at a boarding house, The Pink House on Waverly Place in Kowloon.

"Afternoon tea was more to my taste. The elegant service and leisurely civility on the veranda in fine weather and in the livingroom when weather was bad agreed with me.

"To this ritual I unwittingly contributed an American revolution. Following a lifetime of profligacy, I innocently spread my bread with both butter and jam. At first my fellow lodgers looked askance. They spread one or the other on their bread, never both!

"Soon they were imitating my extravagance, first to see whether they liked it and then to enjoy the extravagance at dinner.

"Mrs Mather [the keeper of the boarding house] was utterly dismayed by this ruinous turn of events. It threatened to throw her budget off balance, she protested, and it probably did.
I am reminded of the story told by Jane Rule about the ham and the pan.
There is a story about a young woman who always cut a generous slice off a ham before cooking it. When asked why she did it, she said, "My mother always did it." Piqued for a better reason, she asked her mother why she had done it. "My mother always did it." The grandmother, fortunately still alive, was finally able to explain, "I never had a pan big enough."
Quirks.

And so for day 1530
20.02.2011

In the land of "attar of carexhaust catcorpse and cookinggrease"

How not to love a poem that begins with the word "Dawndrizzle" and ends with a series of other compound words or kennings?

Slumbers now slumtrack unstinks cooling
waiting brief for milkmaid mornstar and worldrise
In the middle there is a striking image of female potency.
bigthewed Saxonwives stepping over buttrivers
waddling back wienerladen to suckle smallfry
Got to take a look for yourself at this rather exclusive excluding enclave "a ghetto gotten for goyim" as exposed in Anglosaxon Street. Earle Birney (1904 - 1995). The poem appeared in David and other Poems (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1942). Not a street I would want to live on where the mindless procreators sit on their stoops "swearing hatedeeds"

I am left with a lexical quandry.
Alongside in lanenooks carling and leman
caterwaul and clip careless of Saxonry
with moonglow and haste and a higher heartbeat
Trying to understand "carling and leman". leman = lover. carling = timbers in a ship sustaining the deck. Could we have here a misprint for "darling"?

And so for day 1529
19.02.2011

Liquidities Equivalencies

BookThug has a conversation between Chantal Neveu and Nathanaël to which is appended this note

It was no doubt foolhardy on our part to have structured our conversation around such an untranslatable term as fuites; it is at once flight, escape, leakage, puncture and drain, and none of the available equivalencies in English carries the same degree of polysemic, never mind acoustic resonance. (N)
Comes to mind the term as used in the work of Deleuze and Guattari but here flight takes on dimensions other than the line. Other than the line.

Brian Massumi warns the reader in "Notes on the Translation and Acknowledgments" A Thousand Plateaus that
FLIGHT/ESCAPE. Both words translate fuite, which has a different range of meanings than either of the English terms. Fuite covers not only the act of fleeing or eluding but also flowing, leaking, and disappearing into the distance (the vanishing point in a painting is a point de fuite). It has no relation to flying.
Tempus fugit.

And so for day 1528
18.02.2011

Dialogue des Courgettes

The third of the garden poems "Zucchini" in A Gathering Instinct by Betsy Warland.

you admire
the zucchini's proliferation
i think
it incapable of discretion
I like how the observations in dialogue almost an imbroglio is peppered on both sides with "i". promiscuous i.

And so for day 1527
17.02.2011

Behold the Fan

Janine Beichman. Embracing the Firebird: Yosano Akiko and the Birth of the Female Voice in Modern Japanese Poetry

Discussions on what form we should translate tanka into have focused until now on tanka in its printed forms. One argument for example, is that, because tanka are usually printed in one line, English translations should be one line too. But calligraphic versions show that a tanka poem (and the same goes for haiku) has traditionally been seen as convertible into myriad visual shapes. In fact, if we take the calligraphic versions as our models, then there are an infinity of ways to divide our lines and an infinity of ways to indent them. Why should we invent for ourselves a consistency that Japanese poets have never felt obliged to maintain? Why not take advantage of the expressive possibilities offered by modern English poetry's variety of lineation, spacing, punctuation, and capitalization?
Brings to mind the work to bring the 19th century envelope writing to light — see Emily Dickinson: The Gorgeous Nothings. It is an invitation to think the materiality of the writing process. Holland Cotter in the New York Times review of The Gorgeous Nothings speculates
It’s also plausible to think that, for Dickinson, writing on recycled envelopes had practical advantages, material and psychological. It probably appealed to her waste-not New England sensibility. It also meant that she didn’t have to face the equivalent of a blank canvas. Her chosen paper already carried words, familiar names and addresses. It was stained with life, with postmarked dates and the dust of distant places. From that resonant content, she could generate new content, just as she had always generated poetry from the immediate facts of the physical world.
I do like that expression "stained with life" almost belongs in a tanka preferably written on a fan.

And so for day 1526
16.02.2011

Illusive Allusions

The intertextual is not merely interstitial. It sometimes runs interference.

I like the central image in Rhea Tregebov "Vienna, November 1983" in no one we know and how it connects with the haunting mention at the close of the poem of a locale (Mauthausen) that was the site of a concentration camp — mere mention of the name undercuts the quotidian contentedness evoked by cream in coffee.

Allowing herself cream; cream marbles
the good coffee, turns it from liquid
into something extraordinary, something
like a body.
Through enumeration and allusion (pearls as eyes) the poem comes to the closing mention of Mauthausen. I think this is where for me it fails — I bring too much to the reading. I bring my previous reading of the Shakespeare and the T.S. Eliot. They register for me in the singular number which for Tregebov is positioned as a multitude.

Ariel's song from The Tempest
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Eliot's The Waste Land
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she,
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Cream does pearl in coffee when the last drops drop. The image though is not caught at the point the cream is poured but in the swirl when it is allowed into the good coffee. Notwithstanding the meddlesome allusions, to connect a simple cup of coffee with a concentration camp is audacious.

But who drinks the coffee?

What is enumeration and allusion is recapitulation.

The beginning of the poem:
Most, people her age, allow themselves …
a certain sentimentality now. Those
are pearls. The five foxes circle her neck,
their squared noses pointing down dark
with a polished sheen dark as the wood
building the walls of the café; nothing
[…]
The ending:
[…] the good coffee, turns it from liquid
into something extraordinary, something
like a body. All their rings, the light,
voicing that soft gold, extraordinary
how little the sizes varied, the human hand
human, the light living, once, nothing. And those
are pearls, those everlastingly mild eyes
that were their eyes, dark as the wood building
the walls that were their eyes. Mauthausen.
Ever so easy, distracted by coffee, to miss the repeated (but differently segmented) "dark as the wood building walls". An architectural trick overriding the allusions.

And so for day 1525
15.02.2011

Sunlight buttered on the grass.

In a poem where the speaker repeatedly mentions an inability to remember the names of things, there comes this splendid evocation of roses that turns for all its colour and specificity upon the mention of names.

Do the roses bloom? I hope so: how I love roses!
        Bunches of roses on
The dining table, Georg Arends, big and silver-
        pink with sharply
Bent-back petals so the petals make a point: no
        other rose does that:
or Variegata di Bologna, streaked and freaked
        in raspberries and cream,
The feast is limited to two types of roses but seems in its precision to invoke a whole gamut of hybrids. And later in The Morning of the Poem by James Schuyler one finds a similar abundance conveyed by a repetition with variation: "Sunlight buttered on the grass" will some lines later be reprised "Light freshly buttered on the grass." Same effect. Different wording. Once would be showing off. Twice is the mark of a master.

And so for day 1524
14.02.2011

Radish Pyrotechnics

Rhea Tregebov. "The fire under control" in no one we know.

This is a poem that begins with the collection and consumption of vegetables (such as peppers and rhubarb and of course radishes) and moves on to consider fire that is not to be dug up.

Radishes figure a peevish,
proletarian vegetable.
When you bite them, they bite back.
This seems likes a simple innocent remark about the pungent taste of radishes. However, by poem's end we are aware that the fire under control is radioactive — after Chernobyl. The burn burns deeper.

And so for day 1523
13.02.2011

Waiting

A line from Tu Fu (translated by J.P. Seaton in Bright Moon Perching Bird)

Wind, and dust, but no news comes.
Reminds one of "Waiting for the Barbarians" by Cavafy.

Not because of the wind. Not because of the dust. But because no news comes.

And turn again to Tu Fu, the sixth of the six quatrains from a group of twelve ("Grief Again")
Barbarians. How can there be so many?
Shield and spear: unwilling to put by.
At the village gate, listen to the children
Laugh and shout; play war.
We skip a beat. Where Cavafy cannot carry us over — his speaker is arrested ("And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians? / They were, those people, a kind of solution."), Tu Fu brings us close to the integral.

And so for day 1522
12.02.2011

Anaphora

I was debating whether to buy this handsome edition of the Collected Poems of Stephen Spender in its red jacket. In the time-honoured tradition of the browser, I opened the volume and read "The War God" which begins with the following question

Why cannot the one good
Benevolent feasible
Final dove, descend?
Not put off by the Christian allusion to the Dove of Peace, I read the next stanza with its anaphora
And the wheat be divided?
And the soldiers sent home?
And the barriers torn down?
And the enemies forgiven?
And there be no retribution?
Sold, I headed to the counter to finalize the purchase and so home to read the rest of the poem and rest in the resonance of its final line: "Love's need does not cease."

And so for day 1521
11.02.2011

Acrostic Beginning with the Letter F

Autumn : an alphabet acrostic by Steven Schnur, illustrated by Leslie Evans

From the window the
Rows of
Orange pumpkins
Seem clothed in
Thin white shawls.
There is a nice description of the book in the front matter on the copyright page.
Summary: Describes the autumn season, with its animals, rain, cold winds, and harvested food. When read vertically, the first letters of the lines of text spell related words arranged alphabetically from "acorn" to "zero."
F R O S T

I came across this book through the illustrations of Leslie Evans who had captivated me with illustrations to The Spice Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta where one of its charms is the clever use of insets. Here each page presents a moment from an ongoing action or process which bolsters the impact of the poetry of Steven Schnur. One parting example: "Gloves and coats hang / Under the stairs, some / Even lie upon the bed / So many friends have come / This cold and / Snowy Thanksgiving day."

Brrrr.

And so for day 1520
10.02.2011

Before Rock Musicians Smashed Guitars

Yosano Akiko (1878-1942)

River of Stars: Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko translated by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson.

The gods wish it so:
a life ends with a shatter —
with my great broadax
I demolish my koto.
Oh, listen to that sound!
No date is provided for the tanka about the demolished koto but we are quite confident it predates instrument smashing by rock musicians.

And so for day 1519
09.02.2011

Shaped and Stuffed

Hannah Glasse Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving [Penguin Great Food Series] excerpts from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1797) on the various ways to prepare stuffed pigeons (Pigeons au Poire):

Or thus: bone your pigeons, and stuff them with force-meat; make them in the shape of a pear, with one foot stuck at the small end to appear like the stalk of a pear […]
The stuffing with force-meat reminds me of a recipe given by Ed Baines in Entertain for whole roast quail stuffed with thyme, garlic and lemon which uses sausage meat. Baines writes
Quails have very little fat, so it's a good idea to add a stuffing to keep the meat tender, especially if your are going to cook and chill them for a picnic.
Plain and easy. And note no pears in Pigeons au Poire.

And so for day 1518
08.02.2011

Frottage Fancy

Frank Kermode Forms of Attention led me to be acquainted with a Donne poem that I had not studied in school and if I had it might have been recuperated in workings of allegory as Kermode reports "Attempts were made to preserve it [Donne's fame] in an epoch professing different standards, and having different notions of excellence, but even in the early seventeenth century they have a somewhat desperate air, as when a commentator argues that 'The Good Morrow' is not a wickedly erotic poem but an address to God; and that the lesbian epistle 'Sappho to Philænis' is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and his church."

Sappho to Philænis [Literally 'Female Friend']

[…]

And yet I grieve the less, lest grief remove

My beauty, and make me unworthy of thy love.

[…]

My two lips, eyes, thighs, differ from thy two,

But so as thine from one another do;
And, O, no more; the likeness being such,

Why should they not alike in all parts touch?
Introduction by Ilona Bell to John Donne: Collected Poetry
If Donne's portrayal of Sappho arouses male voyeurs — and it pays to look closely at the ending — it also gives female creativity and female pleasure a voice that vies with the much-vaunted 'masculine persuasive force' of 'Elegy 11. On His Mistress'.
So much depends on the placement of "touch". I really like how it is prepared by the twist of narcissistic loss braided to the argument that sorrow would make the speaker unattractive.

And so for day 1517
07.02.2011

List Power

Jan Zita Grover would move from San Francisco to Minnesota and produce a meditation upon landscape and grieving … North Enough: AIDS and Other Clear-Cuts. But before that migration, she contributed a review of the discursive counters set down by actors in the unfolding of the social and medical story of AIDS. She did this in "AIDS: Keywords" with acknowledgement to borrowing the form from Raymond Williams. The piece appeared in an earlier version in October 43 (1988) and revised form in The State of the Language edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels (1990).

Here are the keywords:

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS … The Disease
AIDS Test
AIDS Virus
AIDSpeak
Bisexual
Bod(il)y Fluids
Carrier
Condone [the verb condone not the noun condom]
Family
General Population
Gay/Homosexual Community
Heterosexual Community
Lesbian
Prostitute
PWA (Person with AIDS)
Risk Group
Risk Practice
Spread
Victims
War on AIDS
Reminds me that collectively those affected took a crash course in science and forced clear direction on using words in all their explicit glory to protect people and fight demonization. At this remove in time I learnt something that escaped us in Canada; in California a senate bill was sponsored to legalize the "creation of designated-donor pools to keep donated blood within families so as to prevent transmission of HIV from anonymous donors to "the general population."" Turns out
Evidence of how much more problematic real American families are comes from a recent State of Washington study that found directed-donation blood (that is blood donated by a family member or other designated donor) had a higher rate of HIV infection than randomly assigned donations. So much for the family as bulwark against the coming chaos.
If the tone is sharp it betrays the urgency of the times and the constant struggle against stigma and paranoia. Repeated statement of the facts is the tactic that Grover excels at. Take the evidence on safe sex practices by sex workers.
in the long-term study of sexually active women (professionally and nonprofessionally) conducted by Project AWARE at San Francisco General Hospital, for example, the incidence of HIV infection among non-intravenous-drug-using sex-industry workers was lower than it was among nonprofessional, non-intravenous-drug-using women. The difference is accounted for by prostitutes' widespread demand that clients use condoms, something that most nonprofessional women do no demand of their sexual partners. Other U.S. and European studies that distinguish between prostitutes who use intravenous drugs and those who do not have produced similar findings.
Churches. Africa. Rates of Condom Use. — other contexts, other keywords; same science.

And so for day 1516
06.02.2011

Fire & Darkness

Herb Nabigon and Anne-Marie Mawhiney "Aboriginal Theory: A Cree Medicine Wheel Guide for Healing First Nations" in Turner Social Worker Treatment 4th Edition.

Cree elders teach that fire is symbolized in the center circle, opposite the dark side of not listening.
Jon Kabat-Zinn "Sitting by Fire" in Wherever You Go There You Are
For million of years, we human beings sat around fires, gazing into the flames and embers with cold and darkness at our backs.
What voices come out of the dark unlistening?

And so for day 1515
05.02.2011

The Third Panel

A colleague of mine was given a cartoon with two panels and posted it in her workspace. It was from Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

Panel One
CALVIN: If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.

Panel Two
HOBBES: How so?
CALVIN: Well, when you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day.
I suspected a third panel. Watterson wouldn't leave the reader/viewer with bland sentimentality. There would be an undercurrent of irony. And so it appeared in all its stellar glory.
Panel Three
HOBBES: We spent our day looking under rocks in the creek.
CALVIN: I mean other people.
I like how the emphasis on "our" and "other" tugs. There is a greater galaxy in the full three panels.

And so for day 1514
04.02.2011

Gopnik on James and Proust

Proceeding by contrast, one after another and back again.

Proust believes in evocations; James in implications. Proust is a confident generalizer, seeking on every page the rules of love, memory, and life. James is a simpler fact-seeker, registering in each paragraph the feeling of one experience after another. They are, in other words, a Frenchman and an American, the Frenchman a theorist with a totalizing bent, the American a skeptical empiricist, with a faith that one damn thing coming after another will eventually provide a whole.
Adam Gopnik "Little Henry, Happy At Last" The New Yorker

And so for day 1513
03.02.2011

French Taste in Etymologies

Po'Boy and Fool

Bee Wilson from the "Appendix: Fifty Notable Sandwiches" in Sandwich: A Global History

There is disagreement about the etymology of po'boy: Becky Mercuri suggests it may come from 'hungry young black boys requesting a sandwich "for a po'boy"' while [John F.] Mariani notes that the term could drive from the French pourboire, meaning a tip.
Elizabeth David A Taste of the Sun [a collection of excerpts from her food writing]
The seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers do describe a number of fruit fools, fools made from gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, apples, mulberries, apricots, even from fresh figs; but few of these dishes turn out to be the simple cream-enriched purées we know today. Some were made from rather roughly crushed fruit (the French word foulé, meaning crushed or pressed must surely have some bearing on the English name), often they were thickened with eggs as well as cream, sometimes they were flavoured with wine and spices, perfumed sugar and lemon peel.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) follows Skeat
Fool, in the phr. gooseberry fool. Mahn tells us that this is derived from the F. fouler, to trample on hence, to crush. i believe that this is a mere guess, and that there is no evidence for it. It is quite as likely that it was a sort of slang name made in imitation of trifle. Ben Jonson mentions it; we find "your fools, your flawns;" Sad Shepherd, Act i. sc. 2 (not sc. 7 as in Richardson). But Florio in 1598, explains the Ital. Mantiglia by 'a kind of clouted creame, called a foole or a trifle in English.'

Transactions of the Philological Society, Volume 27 (1885-87) pp. 699-700.
The "Mahn" is in question is C.A.F. Mahn who for the 1864 edition of Webster's dictionary redid the etymologies.

There may be an example predating Mahn, A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the Words are Deduced from Their Originals; and Illustrated in Their Different Significations, by Examples from the Best Writers: Together with a History of the Language, and an English Grammar, Volume 2 edited by Henry John Todd and published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown in 1818 gives the French-derived etymology: FOOL [ probably from fouler Fr.] A liquid made of gooseberries scalded and pounded, and of cream.

In these researches I discovered the lexicographer Florio remade as a poet.
Poets have immortalized it in verse and the first-known published reference in England was in 1598, in a poem by Florio called Mantiglia.

What matters is that trifles are delicious and easy to prepare — making it a favorite of English ladies at teatime.
"English "Trifles" take new twist" Lawrence Journal-World Sunday, July 24, 1983 Page 88 [Picked up without attribution by the Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pennsylvania, July 16, 1984 Page C-1 under a different title "It's The Berries: A Trifle Dessert"].

Some enterprising wit with a flair for bagatelles just might produce a bit of Florio verse on the joys of fool and do so as a po'boy poet.

And so for day 1512
02.02.2011

Scrumptious Bottoms

In constructing a marrow bone pie, one of the layers is "souls of artichokes". I find the expression very evocative. But I find the expression nowhere else at present. It may yet catch on in some fancy circles.

[…] marrow of beef mixed with currants; then upon it a layer of the souls of artichokes, after they have been boiled, and are divided from the thistle […]
The Well-Kept Kitchen Gervase Markham [excerpts from The English Housewife (1615)]

And so for day 1511
01.02.2011