Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Not the fish or the cloth; not the groove in the rifle barrel and not the other name for rye-grass. Not the rank and not the roy. Not the dance, not the distemper found in sheep. This one is the line of light, though not the kind that lies at the base of the child's bedroom door when the parents are still having a lighted nighttime of it in the hallways and rooms beyond.

This ray feels a little more ethereal and packs all its etymological baggage--Anglo-Norman rae, rei, reie, roi, roie; Anglo-Norman and Middle French rai, raie; French rai, raie; Modern French rayon; classical Latin radius; Old Occitan raia (12th cent.), Spanish rayo (13th cent.), Portuguese raio (14th cent.; 13th cent. as rraya); and Italian raggio (1308).--as described in the OED.

The book The Nine Tailors (which is in my reading pile) has this sentence:

The tiny ray of the lantern picked out here the poppy-head on a pew, here the angle of a stone pillar, here the gleam of brass from a mural tablet.

Tablet! Great word.

I wanted to see about ray because I thought it might be interesting the way key is interesting. Now it seems I should have also looked up way.

Anyhoo, there is a description of bells ringing that actually does bring to mind . . . the sound of ringing bells: Tin tan din dan bim bam bom bo--Tin tan din dan bim bam bom bo bom--and so forth.

Apparently the bells have names. There's a memory ditty, viz., The voice of the bells of Fenchurch St. Paul: Gaude, Gaudy, Domini in laude. Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus Dominus Deus Saboath. John Cole made me, John Presbyter paid me, John Evangelist aid me. From Jericho to John A-Groate there is no bell can better my note. Jubilate Deo. Nunc Dimittis, Domine. Abbot Thomas set me here and bade me ring both loud and clear. Paul is my name, honour that same. Then there's a paragraph break and Gaude, Saboath, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas and Tailor Paul. Another break introduces the centerpiece sentence Nine Tailors Make a Man.

I am going to read this book even though it's a mystery novel. What I do for nunc.

In a totally unrelated matter, I must say that some mysteries remain mysterious. Today's mystery is why some people ostracize the beautiful word attorney while putting out the welcome mat for lawyer. (I realize there's a technical difference, but still.)

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