Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Very strange to read this entry in Johnson's Dictionary and suddenly realize as though being hit with a baseball bat that Keats had not yet written the "Ode to a Nightingale".

Other examples of a writer who so strongly puts his or her mark on a particular word?


  1. The classic one is "incarnadine" but that's so o.t.t. that it basically took the word out of the language, in my opinion.

    Darkling is lovely. I feel like there must be some words in "The Windhover" or other major Hopkins poems that have the same powerful continuing resonance and are also still in use.

    Wd much rather continue thinking about this than review the seven syllabi for their conformity to various mandated goals... but there you have it. I'm off...

  2. Yeah, Keats again, with "casement". Although to be fair, he quite obviously lifted it from "All's Well That Ends Well". But I'd be surprised if anyone associated the word with Shakespeare (or didn't associate it with Keats).

  3. And yet for "darkling" I thought of Arnold first and Hardy right after. Of course they are both post-Keats and perhaps echoing him. Shksp, Milton, & Dryden are no shabby ancestry, either.

  4. I'm another one for whom darkling is always Arnold:

    And we are here as on a darkling plain
    Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
    Where ignorant armies clash by night.

  5. Returning to Hopkins: he has "darksome devouring eyes" in [Carrion Comfort] - but I'll never hear "Chevalier" without thinking of the "Windhover." And "Goldengrove unleaving" just got used by Francine Prose.