The Comedian as the Letter C

Original Text: 
Harmonium (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, [September 7], 1923): 45-69. York University Library Special Collections 734
I
The World without Imagination
1Nota: man is the intelligence of his soil,
7Created, in his day, a touch of doubt.
9Berries of villages, a barber's eye,
10An eye of land, of simple salad-beds,
11Of honest quilts, the eye of Crispin, hung
12On porpoises, instead of apricots,
15Inscrutable hair in an inscrutable world.
17It was not so much the lost terrestrial,
19That century of wind in a single puff.
20What counted was mythology of self,
21Blotched out beyond unblotching. Crispin,
23The ribboned stick, the bellowing breeches, cloak
25Of hum, inquisitorial botanist,
26And general lexicographer of mute
28A skinny sailor peering in the sea-glass.
29What word split up in clickering syllables
30And storming under multitudinous tones
32Crispin was washed away by magnitude.
33The whole of life that still remained in him
34Dwindled to one sound strumming in his ear,
37Could Crispin stem verboseness in the sea,
38The old age of a watery realist,
40Of blue and green? A wordy, watery age
41That whispered to the sun's compassion, made
42A convocation, nightly, of the sea-stars,
43And on the cropping foot-ways of the moon
44Lay grovelling. Triton incomplicate with that
45Which made him Triton, nothing left of him,
46Except in faint, memorial gesturings,
47That were like arms and shoulders in the waves,
48Here, something in the rise and fall of wind
49That seemed hallucinating horn, and here,
50A sunken voice, both of remembering
51And of forgetfulness, in alternate strain.
52Just so an ancient Crispin was dissolved.
53The valet in the tempest was annulled.
57Dejected his manner to the turbulence.
58The salt hung on his spirit like a frost,
59The dead brine melted in him like a dew
60Of winter, until nothing of himself
61Remained, except some starker, barer self
62In a starker, barer world, in which the sun
63Was not the sun because it never shone
65Beetled, in chapels, on the chaste bouquets.
66Against his pipping sounds a trumpet cried
67Celestial sneering boisterously. Crispin
68Became an introspective voyager.
70Crispin confronting it, a vocable thing,
71But with a speech belched out of hoary darks
72Noway resembling his, a visible thing,
73And excepting negligible Triton, free
74From the unavoidable shadow of himself
75That lay elsewhere around him. Severance
76Was clear. The last distortion of romance
77Forsook the insatiable egotist. The sea
78Severs not only lands but also selves.
79Here was no help before reality.
80Crispin beheld and Crispin was made new.
81The imagination, here, could not evade,
82In poems of plums, the strict austerity
83Of one vast, subjugating, final tone.
84The drenching of stale lives no more fell down.
86Out of what swift destruction did it spring?
88And something given to make whole among
89The ruses that were shattered by the large.
II
Concerning the Thunderstorms of Yucatan
90In Yucatan, the Maya sonneteers
91Of the Caribbean amphitheatre,
93And jay, still to the night-bird made their plea,
95High up in orange air, were barbarous.
96But Crispin was too destitute to find
97In any commonplace the sought-for aid.
98He was a man made vivid by the sea,
99A man come out of luminous traversing,
100Much trumpeted, made desperately clear,
101Fresh from discoveries of tidal skies,
102To whom oracular rockings gave no rest.
103Into a savage color he went on.
105This auditor of insects! He that saw
106The stride of vanishing autumn in a park
107By way of decorous melancholy; he
108That wrote his couplet yearly to the spring,
109As dissertation of profound delight,
110Stopping, on voyage, in a land of snakes,
112His apprehension, made him intricate
114In all desires, his destitution's mark.
115He was in this as other freemen are,
116Sonorous nutshells rattling inwardly.
117His violence was for aggrandizement
118And not for stupor, such as music makes
119For sleepers halfway waking. He perceived
120That coolness for his heat came suddenly,
121And only, in the fables that he scrawled
123Of an aesthetic tough, diverse, untamed,
124Incredible to prudes, the mint of dirt,
125Green barbarism turning paradigm.
127Or, nobler, sensed an elemental fate,
128And elemental potencies and pangs,
129And beautiful barenesses as yet unseen,
130Making the most of savagery of palms,
131Of moonlight on the thick, cadaverous bloom
133The fabulous and its intrinsic verse
134Came like two spirits parlaying, adorned
137But they came parlaying of such an earth,
138So thick with sides and jagged lops of green,
139So intertwined with serpent-kin encoiled
140Among the purple tufts, the scarlet crowns,
141Scenting the jungle in their refuges,
142So streaked with yellow, blue and green and red
144That earth was like a jostling festival
145Of seeds grown fat, too juicily opulent,
146Expanding in the gold's maternal warmth.
147So much for that. The affectionate emigrant found
148A new reality in parrot-squawks.
149Yet let that trifle pass. Now, as this odd
150Discoverer walked through the harbor streets
152Of the cathedral, making notes, he heard
153A rumbling, west of Mexico, it seemed,
155The white cabildo darkened, the façade,
156As sullen as the sky, was swallowed up
157In swift, successive shadows, dolefully.
158The rumbling broadened as it fell. The wind,
159Tempestuous clarion, with heavy cry,
160Came bluntly thundering, more terrible
161Than the revenge of music on bassoons.
162Gesticulating lightning, mystical,
164An annotator has his scruples, too.
165He knelt in the cathedral with the rest,
166This connoisseur of elemental fate,
167Aware of exquisite thought. The storm was one
168Of many proclamations of the kind,
169Proclaiming something harsher than he learned
170From hearing signboards whimper in cold nights
171Or seeing the midsummer artifice
173Of force, the quintessential fact, the note
175The thing that makes him envious in phrase.
176And while the torrent on the roof still droned
179And studious of a self possessing him,
180That was not in him in the crusty town
181From which he sailed. Beyond him, westward, lay
183In which the thunder, lapsing in its clap,
185For Crispin to vociferate again.
III
Approaching Carolina
186The book of moonlight is not written yet
187Nor half begun, but, when it is, leave room
189Who, in the hubbub of his pilgrimage
190Through sweating changes, never could forget
191That wakefulness or meditating sleep,
193Bore up, in time, the somnolent, deep songs.
194Leave room, therefore, in that unwritten book
195For the legendary moonlight that once burned
196In Crispin's mind above a continent.
197America was always north to him,
198A northern west or western north, but north,
199And thereby polar, polar-purple, chilled
200And lank, rising and slumping from a sea
201Of hardy foam, receding flatly, spread
202In endless ledges, glittering, submerged
205Of half-dissolving frost, the summer came,
206If ever, whisked and wet, not ripening,
207Before the winter's vacancy returned.
208The myrtle, if the myrtle ever bloomed,
209Was like a glacial pink upon the air.
213How many poems he denied himself
214In his observant progress, lesser things
215Than the relentless contact he desired;
216How many sea-masks he ignored; what sounds
217He shut out from his tempering ear; what thoughts,
220Perhaps the Arctic moonlight really gave
221The liaison, the blissful liaison,
222Between himself and his environment,
223Which was, and is, chief motive, first delight,
224For him, and not for him alone. It seemed
225Elusive, faint, more mist than moon, perverse,
227To him that postulated as his theme
228The vulgar, as his theme and hymn and flight,
229A passionately niggling nightingale.
230Moonlight was an evasion, or, if not,
231A minor meeting, facile, delicate.
232Thus he conceived his voyaging to be
233An up and down between two elements,
234A fluctuating between sun and moon,
236As on this voyage, out of goblinry,
237And then retirement like a turning back
238And sinking down to the indulgences
240But let these backward lapses, if they would,
241Grind their seductions on him, Crispin knew
242It was a flourishing tropic he required
243For his refreshment, an abundant zone,
245Yet with a harmony not rarefied
248Between a Carolina of old time,
249A little juvenile, an ancient whim,
250And the visible, circumspect presentment drawn
251From what he saw across his vessel's prow.
252He came. The poetic hero without palms
253Or jugglery, without regalia.
254And as he came he saw that it was spring,
255A time abhorrent to the nihilist
257The moonlight fiction disappeared. The spring,
260Was gemmy marionette to him that sought
261A sinewy nakedness. A river bore
262The vessel inward. Tilting up his nose,
265From warehouse doors, the gustiness of ropes,
267That helped him round his rude aesthetic out.
268He savored rankness like a sensualist.
269He marked the marshy ground around the dock,
271Curriculum for the marvellous sophomore.
272It purified. It made him see how much
273Of what he saw he never saw at all.
274He gripped more closely the essential prose
275As being, in a world so falsified,
276The one integrity for him, the one
277Discovery still possible to make,
278To which all poems were incident, unless
279That prose should wear a poem's guise at last.
IV
The Idea of a Colony
280Nota: his soil is man's intelligence.
281That's better. That's worth crossing seas to find.
282Crispin in one laconic phrase laid bare
283His cloudy drift and planned a colony.
284Exit the mental moonlight, exit lex,
287More exquisite than any tumbling verse:
288A still new continent in which to dwell.
289What was the purpose of his pilgrimage,
290Whatever shape it took in Crispin's mind,
291If not, when all is said, to drive away
292The shadow of his fellows from the skies,
293And, from their stale intelligence released,
294To make a new intelligence prevail?
295Hence the reverberations in the words
296Of his first central hymns, the celebrants
297Of rankest trivia, tests of the strength
298Of his aesthetic, his philosophy,
300The florist asking aid from cabbages,
302Afraid, the blind man as astronomer,
303The appointed power unwielded from disdain.
304His western voyage ended and began.
305The torment of fastidious thought grew slack,
307He, therefore, wrote his prolegomena,
308And, being full of the caprice, inscribed
309Commingled souvenirs and prophecies.
311The natives of the rain are rainy men.
313And April hillsides wooded white and pink,
314Their azure has a cloudy edge, their white
316And in their music showering sounds intone.
317On what strange froth does the gross Indian dote,
318What Eden sapling gum, what honeyed gore,
319What pulpy dram distilled of innocence,
320That streaking gold should speak in him
321Or bask within his images and words?
322If these rude instances impeach themselves
323By force of rudeness, let the principle
324Be plain. For application Crispin strove,
327Upon these premises propounding, he
328Projected a colony that should extend
329To the dusk of a whistling south below the south.
330A comprehensive island hemisphere.
331The man in Georgia waking among pines
332Should be pine-spokesman. The responsive man,
335But on the banjo's categorical gut,
340And dark Brazilians in their cafés,
342Should scrawl a vigilant anthology,
344These are the broadest instances. Crispin,
345Progenitor of such extensive scope,
346Was not indifferent to smart detail.
347The melon should have apposite ritual,
350Should have an incantation. And again,
352The summer, it should have a sacrament
353And celebration. Shrewd novitiates
355These bland excursions into time to come,
356Related in romance to backward flights,
357However prodigal, however proud,
359That first drove Crispin to his wandering.
360He could not be content with counterfeit,
361With masquerade of thought, with hapless words
363With fictive flourishes that preordained
364His passion's permit, hang of coat, degree
365Of buttons, measure of his salt. Such trash
366Might help the blind, not him, serenely sly.
367It irked beyond his patience. Hence it was,
368Preferring text to gloss, he humbly served
369Grotesque apprenticeship to chance event,
370A clown, perhaps, but an aspiring clown.
371There is a monotonous babbling in our dreams
372That makes them our dependent heirs, the heirs
373Of dreamers buried in our sleep, and not
374The oncoming fantasies of better birth.
375The apprentice knew these dreamers. If he dreamed
376Their dreams, he did it in a gingerly way.
377All dreams are vexing. Let them be expunged.
378But let the rabbit run, the cock declaim.
381No, no: veracious page on page, exact.
V
A Nice Shady Home
382Crispin as hermit, pure and capable,
383Dwelt in the land. Perhaps if discontent
384Had kept him still the pricking realist,
386Of was and is and shall or ought to be,
387Beyond Bordeaux, beyond Havana, far
389To colonize his polar planterdom
392Crispin dwelt in the land and dwelling there
393Slid from his continent by slow recess
394To things within his actual eye, alert
395To the difficulty of rebellious thought
396When the sky is blue. The blue infected will.
398Sealed pensive purple under its concern.
399But day by day, now this thing and now that
402Abashed him by carouse to humble yet
404He first, as realist, admitted that
406May, after all, stop short before a plum
407And be content and still be realist.
408The words of things entangle and confuse.
409The plum survives its poems. It may hang
410In the sunshine placidly, colored by ground
413In bloom. Yet it survives in its own form,
416For him, of shall or ought to be in is.
417Was he to bray this in profoundest brass
419Was he to company vastest things defunct
421Scrawl a tragedian's testament? Prolong
422His active force in an inactive dirge,
423Which, let the tall musicians call and call,
424Should merely call him dead? Pronounce amen
425Through choirs infolded to the outmost clouds?
426Because he built a cabin who once planned
428Because he turned to salad-beds again?
430Should he lay by the personal and make
431Of his own fate an instance of all fate?
432What is one man among so many men?
433What are so many men in such a world?
434Can one man think one thing and think it long?
435Can one man be one thing and be it long?
436The very man despising honest quilts
438For realists, what is is what should be.
442The curtains flittered and the door was closed.
443Crispin, magister of a single room,
444Latched up the night. So deep a sound fell down
445It was as if the solitude concealed
446And covered him and his congenial sleep.
447So deep a sound fell down it grew to be
448A long soothsaying silence down and down.
449The crickets beat their tambours in the wind,
450Marching a motionless march, custodians.
452Each day, still curious, but in a round
455Yeoman and grub, but with a fig in sight,
456And cream for the fig and silver for the cream,
457A blonde to tip the silver and to taste
461And men like Crispin like them in intent,
462If not in will, to track the knaves of thought.
463But the quotidian composed as his,
464Of breakfast ribands, fruits laid in their leaves,
466Although the rose was not the noble thorn
468Composed of evenings like cracked shutters flung
469Upon the rumpling bottomness, and nights
470In which those frail custodians watched,
471Indifferent to the tepid summer cold,
472While he poured out upon the lips of her
473That lay beside him, the quotidian
474Like this, saps like the sun, true fortuner.
475For all it takes it gives a humped return
VI
And Daughters with Curls
477Portentous enunciation, syllable
480Prolific and tormenting tenderness
481Of music, as it comes to unison,
482Forgather and bell boldly Crispin's last
486Hands without touch yet touching poignantly,
487Leaving no room upon his cloudy knee,
488Prophetic joint, for its diviner young.
489The return to social nature, once begun,
491Involved him in midwifery so dense
494Of children nibbling at the sugared void,
495Infants yet eminently old, then dome
497Green crammers of the green fruits of the world,
498Bidders and biders for its ecstasies,
499True daughters both of Crispin and his clay.
501Effective colonizer sharply stopped
502In the door-yard by his own capacious bloom.
503But that this bloom grown riper, showing nibs
504Of its eventual roundness, puerile tints
506The stopper to indulgent fatalist
507Was unforeseen. First Crispin smiled upon
510So delicately blushed, so humbly eyed,
512Secret and singular. Second, upon
513A second similar counterpart, a maid
514Most sisterly to the first, not yet awake
515Excepting to the motherly footstep, but
516Marvelling sometimes at the shaken sleep.
517Then third, a thing still flaxen in the light,
518A creeper under jaunty leaves. And fourth,
522Gave to the cabin, lordlier than it was,
523The dulcet omen fit for such a house.
524The second sister dallying was shy
527The third one gaping at the orioles
528Lettered herself demurely as became
529A pearly poetess, peaked for rhapsody.
531Four daughters in a world too intricate
532In the beginning, four blithe instruments
536That should be silver, four accustomed seeds
537Hinting incredible hues, four self-same lights
539Four questioners and four sure answerers.
541The world, a turnip once so readily plucked,
544And sown again by the stiffest realist,
545Came reproduced in purple, family font,
546The same insoluble lump. The fatalist
548Without grace or grumble. Score this anecdote
550In form though in design, as Crispin willed,
551Disguised pronunciamento, summary,
553But muted, mused, and perfectly revolved
554In those portentous accents, syllables,
555And sounds of music coming to accord
556Upon his law, like their inherent sphere,
557Seraphic proclamations of the pure
558Delivered with a deluging onwardness.
559Or if the music sticks, if the anecdote
560Is false, if Crispin is a profitless
561Philosopher, beginning with green brag,
562Concluding fadedly, if as a man
563Prone to distemper he abates in taste,
564Fickle and fumbling, variable, obscure,
566Illuminating, from a fancy gorged
567By apparition, plain and common things,
570And so distorting, proving what he proves
571Is nothing, what can all this matter since
572The relation comes, benignly, to its end?
573So may the relation of each man be clipped.

Notes

1] Title: by the letter C, Stevens confided to friends in letters that he meant the comic sound of that consonant, broadly understood as k, ts, x, and z as well as c. Stevens compared the noise to the crickets that followed St. Francis, whose order of friars is mentioned in the poem, and illustrates by citing lines 476 and 479 (Letters, 293-94, 351-52, 778). Stevens means to have fun with Crispin. Although a poet, Crispin has four daughters, unlike Stevens (who at the time of the poem's composition had no children). It would be misleading to represent this comic epic as seriously autobiographical.
Nota: make a note (Latin). Back to Line
2] Socrates: Greek philosopher, Plato's teacher, executed by poisoning in 399 BC. Back to Line
3] principium: beginning (Latin). Back to Line
4] lex: law (Latin).
Sed quaeritur: but it is asked (Latin). Back to Line
5] nincompated: neologism (not in the Oxford English Dictionary), possibly a fusion of `nincompoop'("fool") and `pate' ("head") meaning "foolish-headed. "Stevens used dictionaries heavily at this time (Brazeau, Parts of a World: 40, 68). Back to Line
6] Preceptor: teacher, school principal. Back to Line
8] gelatines: jellies.
jupes: women's skirts or bodices. Back to Line
13] silentious: taciturn. Back to Line
14] Dibbled: made holes.
mustachios: large mustaches. Back to Line
16] paté: mashed spicy meat spread.
quotha: said he. Back to Line
18] hibernal: winter. Back to Line
22] thane: feudal lord (old-fashioned). Back to Line
24] haw Of hum: someone humming and hawing, that is, hesitating over words but preventing interruption by uttering meaningless noises. Back to Line
27] greenhorns: novices. Back to Line
31] shanks: legs.
brunt: ruckus. Back to Line
35] Ubiquitous: ever-present. Back to Line
36] Polyphony: voices singing different melodies simultaneously.
baton: orchestra conductor's wand. Back to Line
39] Triton: half-fish, half-man, the son of the sea-god Poseidon and Amphitrite.
diaphanes: see-through forms. Back to Line
54] Bordeaux: southwest French city on the Garonne river.
Yucantan: peninsula extending across southeast Mexico and central America.
Havana: capital city of Cuba. Back to Line
55] Carolina: city in Puerto Rico. Back to Line
56] minuscule: script with small letter-forms. Back to Line
64] parasols: umbrellas. Back to Line
69] ding an sich: the thing in itself. Back to Line
85] panoply: impressive garb. Back to Line
87] caparison: rich trappings, often head-gear. Back to Line
90] Maya: ancient Amerindian people. Back to Line
92] toucan: colourful large beaked bird of Central and South Americas. Back to Line
94] tanagers: American passerine birds. Back to Line
104] demesne: possession (legal term). Back to Line
111] vicissitudes: changes in circumstances, good or bad. Back to Line
113] rucks: undistinguished gatherings. Back to Line
122] indigenous: native. Back to Line
126] promenade: stroll. Back to Line
132] yuccas: woody, white-flowered lily-like plants. Back to Line
135] coign: corner. Back to Line
136] catechize: pose questions testing dogma. Back to Line
143] gobbet: lump. Back to Line
151] cabildo: town hall or church chapterhouse. Back to Line
154] gasconade: bravado. Back to Line
163] flitter: rapid to-and-fro motion. Back to Line
172] pane: window-pane. Back to Line
174] Vulcan: lame cuckolded husband of Venus, and the Roman god of fire and blacksmithy. Back to Line
177] Andean: of the Andes, a mountain chain splitting South America east and west. Back to Line
178] elate: exhilarated. Back to Line
182] balustrades: elegant supports in a row. Back to Line
184] quavers: trills. Back to Line
188] fagot: bundle of sticks or kindling. Back to Line
192] strophes: parts of a Greek ode sung when the chorus turns from one side of the orchestra to the other. Back to Line
203] boreal: northern. Back to Line
204] pannicles: flower clusters shaped like little Christmas trees. Back to Line
210] palmettoes: cabbage palmettos, native to the south-eastern USA.
crepuscular: twilight-like. Back to Line
211] meridians: circles (astronomical, terrestrial). Back to Line
212] chiaroscuro: picture of blended light and shade. Back to Line
218] jades: ladies of no reputation. Back to Line
219] descants: contrapuntal melodies, chanted above the main theme. Back to Line
226] divagation: unplanned side-trip.
Peking: Beijing, China. Back to Line
235] sally: excursion. Back to Line
239] have their habitude: are usually found. Back to Line
244] obdurate: stubborn. Back to Line
246] fined: ourified. Back to Line
247] stops: knobs on a musical instrument for adjusting pitch (and also stay-overs on a trip). Back to Line
256] fecund: fruitful. Back to Line
258] featly: adroitly. Back to Line
259] Irised: showing rainbow-like. Back to Line
263] rosin: resin, a secretion from pinewood. Back to Line
264] emanations: emissions. Back to Line
266] arrant: outright. Back to Line
270] spur: branch of railway line. Back to Line
285] Rex and principium: king and founder. Back to Line
286] Shebang: bunch. Back to Line
299] invidious: envious, obnoxious. Back to Line
301] paladin: princely courtier-warrior. Back to Line
306] bellicose: warlike. Back to Line
310] collation: light meal, collection. Back to Line
312] effulgent: brilliant.
azure: light or sky blue. Back to Line
315] dogwood: woody flowering shrub. Back to Line
325] Esquimau: eskimo. Back to Line
326] marimba: xylophone (a row of wooden bars struck by hand with small hammers).
magnolia: showy spring flower. Back to Line
333] cores: fruit-seeds. Back to Line
334] psaltery: Biblical stringed musical instrument associated with King David. Back to Line
336] bays: laurels, awarded for victory. Back to Line
337] bibbling: drinking.
mescal: Mexican liquor distilled from maguey plants. Back to Line
338] Aztec: ancient Amerindian people. Back to Line
339] Sierra: (southern) mountain ranges. Back to Line
341] pampean dits: ditties (poems) of the South American grassy plains. Back to Line
343] lucent: bathed in light. Back to Line
348] verd: green. Back to Line
349] belle: beautiful. Back to Line
351] salvers: food-trays. Back to Line
354] clerks: secretaries. Back to Line
358] afflatus: divine breathing into (someone). Back to Line
362] racking: torturous. Back to Line
379] pasticcio: pastiche, imitative hodgepodge. Back to Line
380] cozener: cheat. Back to Line
385] droll confect: amusing sweetmeat. Back to Line
388] carked: troubled. Back to Line
390] jig his chits: bounce his little girls. Back to Line
391] emprize: venture. Back to Line
397] yarrow: white-flowered herb. Back to Line
400] cosseted: pampered. Back to Line
401] suzerain: soveraign. Back to Line
403] denouement: ending. Back to Line
405] matinal: early morning. Back to Line
411] Obliquities: muddled thoughts. Back to Line
412] Harlequined: played comically in pantomime.
mazily: in a winding, confused way.
mauved: made purple. Back to Line
414] guzzly: possibly a neologism (not in the Oxford English Dictionary), eagerly guzzled down. Back to Line
415] hasped: fastened. Back to Line
418] Arointing: dismissing.
fugal requiems: dirges or chants for the dead, in the manner of a fugue, a contrapuntal weaving of repeated motifs. Back to Line
420] blubber: weeping. Back to Line
427] Loquacious: chatty.
ructive: possibly a neologism (not in the Oxford English Dictionary), perhaps belching or violent. Back to Line
429] crape: crepe, a mourning band worn on sleave or elsewhere. Back to Line
437] poll: head. Back to Line
439] shuffled up: confusedly made up. Back to Line
440] duenna: ancient governess or chaperon. Back to Line
441] prismy: like a prism, refracting light into its constituent colours. Back to Line
451] presto: bustle (a rapid musical tempo). Back to Line
453] condign: decent. Back to Line
454] Candide: the hero of Voltaire's satire of the same name (1759). Back to Line
458] rapey: possibly like a rope. Back to Line
459] Annealed: toughened by heating and cooling. Back to Line
460] quotidian: daily routine. Back to Line
465] tomtit: little bird.
cassia: herb. Back to Line
467] crinoline: stiff horsehair or linen fabric. Back to Line
476] Exchequering: managing state revenue.
piebald: multicoloured.
fiscs: state treasuries.
unkeyed: unentered? not typed in? Back to Line
478] affined: connected. Back to Line
479] cantilene: old song. Back to Line
483] Thrum: strum, pluck the strings of.
douceur: sweetness. Back to Line
484] pronunciamento and devise: (Spanish) manifesto and opinion (or heraldic design and motto). Back to Line
485] bluet-eyed: like the American flower of that name. Back to Line
490] Anabasis: march. Back to Line
492] phylactery: little container filled with pieces of scripture and worn by Jewish men during prayers. Back to Line
493] palankeens: covered litters used in India, palanquins. Back to Line
496] halidom: sacred land.
femes: wives (legal term). Back to Line
500] mulctings: fines (also frauds). Back to Line
505] rouges: reds. Back to Line
508] demoiselle: young lady. Back to Line
509] capuchins: order of friars of St. Francis of Assisi. Back to Line
511] coronal: crown or circlet. Back to Line
519] gewgaws: bright trinkets. Back to Line
520] din and gobble: noise and feeding. Back to Line
521] vermeil: vermilion. Back to Line
525] full-pinioned: with a full wing-spread. Back to Line
526] botches: messes.
embosomer: possibly a neologism (not in the Oxford English Dictionary), a bosom-companion? Back to Line
530] pent: shut up.
digit: little thing (finger, toe). Back to Line
533] struts: upright, somewhat rigid bearings. Back to Line
534] In couch: bed or sofa? Back to Line
535] buffo: opera clown. Back to Line
538] chromatics: highly coloured lights. Back to Line
540] rout: crowd, hullabaloo. Back to Line
542] daubed: smeared. Back to Line
543] main: sea. Back to Line
547] craw: throat. Back to Line
549] pith: essential meaning. Back to Line
552] compendium: encyclopedia. Back to Line
565] Glozing: gleaming (and glossing).
flicks: strokes. Back to Line
568] fluster: agitation. Back to Line
569] obstreperous: unruly. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1923
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.