Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Word study #1 - Mawkish

My husband is amazed that I have the followers I have. How many people would read a blog on the importance of a word (or two), especially when it's particular importance has nothing to do with them, personally.

Well, you never know. One of these days you might just happen to need to use the word, "mawkish." I don't know, maybe you are about to buy a card for a mother-in-law, sister-in-law, distant friend and you settle on one of the very soppy cards you find in the racks at a drug store, (there is a reason why they are sold in drug stores) and you say, "Eureka," I think that this is mawkish(soppy) enough to suit the tastes of Belinda B - exactly!

OK, here's the back story. I do crossword puzzles - go figure - and the clue was "Mawkish girl gets nothing in return."  I was fascinated by a word, I don't hear often. Mawkish means, overly sentimental, soppy. The sound of the word, itself, does not complement, its meaning - mawkish doesn't sob - it snaps.

I was stumped for a while, then I finally figured out that the girl's name was Maud and the "nothing in return" was "nil or lin." The answer was "maudlin" -  another soppy, somewhat sad, word.

Wait!! It doesn't stop there. I am a lateral thinker and as often as I try to straighten out my mind, it decides to bend and lead me down paths, I have (had) never intended to wander. There are a number of "Mauds" that now have to be considered.

1. Tennyson's Maud.

Come into the garden, Maud,
     For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maud,
     I am here at the gate alone ;
And the woodbine spices are wafted abroad,
     And the musk of the rose is blown.

In addition to planting the flowers, that grew in my grandmother's garden, I grow the flowers from poems I have read. I grow roses, and soon, passionflower, and bleeding heart for all the poems that don't mention flowers, but bleed so much passion, they have to be remembered!!

PS: I don't have the dates on the gravestone, but it is amazing that someone who died maybe 50 or so years ago is now posted on the internet. This requires another post. I'll go back and get the information. This is time immemorial.

2. Maud Gonne

W.B. Yeats' muse was Maud Gonne. There is something about the tension (not Tennyson) in unrequited love that spurs the poet. Yeats proposed to Maud Gonna many times, only to be rejected. Here is his poem to her.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

The picture? Taken in Mt Pleasant Cemetery. Perhaps as mawkish, as the tributes on tombstones. Come into the garden, indeed. The evil in me has to tell you that mawkish comes from the old norse for maggot. Tempus fugit - Gather ye rosebuds while ye may - and maybe read a few poems along the way!!

Have a meaningful day!!

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