I've run into a few problems recently trying to research things by title. I wanted to read a poem by Lillian Robinson, titled In the Night Kitchen. Unfortunately, that title is shared by a popular children's book by Maurice Sendak (of "Where the Wild Things Are" fame). Robinson's poem was published in a magazine or anthology titled Beefsteak Begonia. An internet search on that phrase yields link after link to nurseries and garden supply shops, but no poem. Imagine the challenge of looking for a poem titled "poem" on the internet. I suppose it's not much better trying to find one of Emily Dickinson's poems by its number. Original works can be and are protected by copyright, not so titles. We are once again brought face to face with the importance of naming and the creation and use of lexicons. Have you yet encountered the Lexicon of Sustainability?
|Spring time fern croziers|
Photo by J. Harrington
So, we have lexicons, glossaries, dictionaries and other terms of terms. How to tell them apart? See if this helps. Poets (and others) often create new words, as well as using existing ones. Old words, through disuse, can disappear. The reality those words name sometimes remains, sometimes disappears itself. (Will we know icebergs 1000 years from now?) There's also the confusion created by using the same word for very different things, simply due to a similarity of appearance. There's a bishop's staff crozier which looks sort of like the fern head crosiers pictured above, but serves a different purpose. Language and reality have a messy relationship, don't they. Poetry helps that?
Eschatology of the Lexicon
They come down to usrounding the corners of centuriesat an innocent jog, shedding lettersand most of the grand old meaningsto take on the sleek new hideour day demands, a snappiernap that can repel the stareof a rather less tactful sun;they come down to us com-pounding, bounding in idiotjoy, they come with that trustfultired old mutt look, that soft woof,warm doggie sigh on the knee,hoping for what? Some reason,no doubt, to continue sounding.Give me one good reason,they come down to us saying,as if we could have one without them.
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