New dog, new world
You have now entered the fun house that is Five-Phrase (Freaky!) Friday, Number 11. Proceed with bug eyes and funny bones as we explore the world of shape shifting, mutant hybrids, and murderous intentions–in words and phrases, that is.
Last week, I foretold of a unique linguistic phenomenon exemplified by the word “readaholic.” Like “shopaholic” and “workaholic”–but not like “alcoholic”–this type of word is known as a portmanteau. Pronounced PORT – man – TOE.
French for “(it) carries (the) cloak,” the word portmanteau’s original use was to describe a type of suitcase that opens into two halves. In linguistic terms, a portmanteau is the joining of two words to make a completely new word from only part of each of the original two.
The compound noun, by contrast, contains two words that have remained intact from their original states. An example would be the word “doghouse.” The two words in a standard compound noun are like buddies joined at the hip, whereas a portmanteau is that set of conjoined twins who share vital organs. Freaky. . . .
Designer dog breeds are a place where we often see this happen: Labradoodle (Labrador + poodle) and puggle (pug + beagle), for instance. Although not conjoined twins, designer dogs are genuine animal hybrids, assuming they come from a reputable breeder.
The Internet, cell phones, and social networking have spawned other creatures such as sexting (sex + texting) and, of course, blog (web + log) and vlog (video + log).
Food-related examples of portmanteaus further illustrate this melding effect:
cheeseburger = cheese + hamburger
spork = spoon + fork
the kids’ breakfast cereal (Count) Chocula = chocolate + Dracula
zombilicious = zombie + delicious
A portmanteau can be a delightful outcome of linguistic invention and creative word play–or a source of great annoyance to language purists, and confusing to people just trying to keep up with regular English.
So that’s the world of portmanteaus in a . . . suitcase.
This week’s five phrases are gerund-based names of music bands with a Halloween feel. Each band name’s first word is a gerund (pron. JAIR – und), an -ing ending verb form that acts as a noun, specifically an action:
(The) Smashing Pumpkins *
What are some other gerund-y band names you’re familiar with?
Can you think of movie, TV show, book, or song titles that begin with or contain gerunds?
Beware of the overuse of gerunds (a habit of mine), running into vampire worlds, butterfly-winged bullets, Mr. Jones’ strange luggage, sharp cutlery, jack-o’-lantern vandals, devilish dance floors, psycho killers, weapon-toting trick-or-treaters, green knights, headless horsemen, portmanteau experiments gone awry, bad music, and bad grammar–but not witches; witches are okay–while you have a . . .
Protect the great pumpkins and phrases.
And I’ll see you in November–National Novel Writing Month!
Verse writing, like other writing, can greatly benefit from the poetry we read. An overview of the evolution of the Western tradition in nature poetry might be a good place to start getting to know existing nature poems and poets, along with what it’s all about.
Featured on the Academy of American Poets‘ list of notable nature poems, English writer Thomas Hardy’s poem “The Darkling Thrush” serves as a good example for its formal meter and rhyme, gradual conceptual revelation, and descriptive beauty.
As perhaps an antidote to the horrors associated with nature’s dangers, recalled to us by Shark Week and SharkFest on TV this week, Hardy’s poem offers an infusion of hope and tranquillity.
The first two stanzas establish the atmosphere of the scene. Here is the second half of stanza 1:
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky Like strings of broken lyres, And all mankind that haunted nigh Had sought their household fires.
The iambic meter creates rhythm with alternating lines of tetrameter (4 iambs, or beats of one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) and trimeter (3 iambs), the use of simile in the second line, and the selective word choice of verbs like “scored” and “haunted” exemplify some of this poem’s treasures. Read on for more.
Exact end rhyme in a traditional ABAB pattern adds to the lyrical effect of the rhythm. The journey of the poem portrayed is one of dwelling in darkness and being surprised by a sudden “light” of sorts. The animal, a bird, serves as the source of that light.
Famous poems can inspire, are useful models to imitate, and are worth reading for the sheer pleasure of it. There are so many options for subject, form, and style with nature poetry, as with many types of writing, that the number of different accepted approaches has greatly increased over time.
Whether you choose a formal or informal style, rhymed or free verse, animals or elements as your nature subjects, you too have open access to writing nature poetry for yourself and others.
Take advantage of the outdoors and the beauty of the seasons, bring along a pen and paper, observe what comes, and try your hand at some nature verse. Celebrate your world.
Caution: This post contains old-time and foreign, though no less explicit, lyrics.
If you read my last post “Scotland’s Burns and Outlander rival Shakespeare’s bawdy” and wondered what the TV version lyrics of this naughty song were, I’ve added below what I could best discern from watching and listening. The earlier post includes a Scots terms glossary for both song versions. Also note that no details of Claire’s singing appear in the book; this content is unique to the show.
Here are Outlander Starz TV‘s adapted lyrics of traditional Scots bawdy song “The Reels o Bogie.” Arranged to the tune of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” featured in Season 1, Episode 114, “The Search,” and sung by actor Caitriona Balfe as Claire Fraser in drag, or as Murtagh puts it, “a Sassenach lady dressed as a laddie”:
[As stage fright hits her, Claire prefaces her performance with a 20th-century expletive, omitted here]
Here’s to all you lads and lasses that go out this way.
Be sure to tip your coggie when you take her out to play.
The lads and lasses toy and kiss.
The lads never think what they do is amiss.
Because there’s Kent, and Keen, and there’s Aberdeen,
And there’s nane [none] as muckle as Strath-bogie-wogie.
For every lad’ll wander just to have his lass,
And when they see a pintle rise, they’ll raise a glass,
And rowe about their wanton een.
They dance the reel as the troopers go over the lea.
Because there’s Kent, and Keen, and there’s Aberdeen,
And there’s nane as muckle as Strath-bogie-wogie.
A-root, a-toot, a-rooty a-doot….
Scene 2 (continuation)
He giggled, goggled me.
He was a banger.
He sought the prize between my thighs,
became a hanger.
[next is only a partially audible stanza as attention shifts to the crowd where Murtagh makes inquiries about Jamie Fraser]
[something] muckle chump [?]
I suppled both the ends…. [per 6th stanza of the original song (see link from previous post for details)] [something, something] boogie
Because there’s Kent, and Keen, and there’s Aberdeen,
But there’s nane as muckle as the Strath-bogie-wogie.
[Claire signals instrumental accompaniment to halt for her a capella finale:]
No, there’s nane as muckle as the wanton toun of Strathbogie.
Credits: song by Don Raye and Hughie Prince (1941), brought to popular culture by the Andrews Sisters; lyrics based on “The Reels o Bogie” and adapted by the writers and producers at Outlander Starz and Sony Pictures Television.
For fascinating insights into the score created for what he calls Outlander’s “trilogy” of episodes concluding with “The Search,” visit series composer Bear McCreary’s Outlander site at the following page: http://www.bearmccreary.com/#blog/blog/outlander-lallybroch-the-watch-the-search/. He emphasizes the ever-present Scottish folk elements in these episodes of the series.
To learn the meaning of these adapted lyrics and to access and learn about the original—much naughtier—song lyrics, see my earlier post: “Scotland’s Burns and Outlander rival Shakespeare’s bawdy.”
To see and hear the adapted song and lyrics in action (totally worth it), catch re-runs of the episode “The Search,” showing this week on Starz, or stream it online. Mature audiences only.
Caution: Post contains old-time, though no less explicit, lyrics.
As a demonstration of the extent of my obsession with Outlander these days (largely what has been keeping me from blogging), here is an in-depth look at the words and music re-purposed for the most recent episode of the Starz TV adaptation.
Just as the main characters Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) of author Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series are both funnier and (he) more brutish than their TV series counterparts, the real Scottish bawdy song upon which the song used in the most recent episode, “The Search,” was based is both longer and raunchier. And yet, ramping up the humor this time, Caitriona Balfe’s and Duncan LaCroix’s (Murtagh Fraser) performances evoked guffahs galore from this avid viewer.
“It’s a bonny tune, but you need a Scottish song,” says Murtagh to Claire’s attempt to help him improve his show by singing to him her own century’s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” I loved the screenwriters’ innovation of using the tune as the anachronistic foundation for Claire’s provocative, though reluctant, cross-dressing performance meant to summon her missing husband Jamie. Oh, the things we do for love. I would be equally interested to hear the tune of the original Scottish folk song (still looking for a recording with words). If you find that, let me know.
Before you bugger off to the link of the song lyrics farther down the page, here’s a quick glossary of Scottish dialect and slang terms to help you enjoy their full effect. This list draws upon both the Scots Glossary at The Mudcat Cafe and the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL), as well as Wikipedia and Dictionary.com. The rest of the commentary is my interpretive opinion.
aboot – adv., about
baith – adj, both
bogie – n., can mean outhouse, or boogie man, or cooking galley of a fishing boat (among other meanings), but is more likely a reference to the River Bogie (from Wikipedia): Note: Mention of Aberdeen in the tune helps to confirm this interpretation, though it’s possible there is double meaning intended in the song.
“The River Bogie (Scottish Gaelic: Balgaidh), also known as the Water of Bogie, is a river in NW Aberdeenshire in the north east of Scotland. Starting with the confluence of the Craig and Corchinan burns (), near the parish of Auchindoir and Kearn, the River Bogie flows northeast for about 11 miles through Strathbogie (see entries for strath and Strathbogie below) to Rhynie and Huntly.” – Wikipedia
The TV episode’s rendition of the song refers to “the wanton toun (pron. toon) of Strathbogie,” and the Burns collection’s version refers to both the “reels of Bogie” and the “toun of Strathbogie.”
clue – n., a ball of wool; fig., property, wealth, prize. In context, a sewing euphemism for sex: “bobbin on my wanton clue.” See entry for reel below.
coggie – n., diminutive of “cog,” meaning cup, vessel (according to the Scots dictionary). Also, a cog as “ ”
suggests the male’s sexual agency. This imagery is similar to that used in the film Shakespeare in Love when Viola dressed as a man finds herself in a brothel being urged to “dip your wick” (as of a candle) into the “flame” of a prostitute’s loins. The wording in the online song lyrics, “tip her coggie,” however, suggests accessing the woman’s sex; thus, the notion of a woman’s vagina as “cup” or “vessel,” tipped to whichever parts of the male he chooses. Ahem….
dae – v., do
een – n., pl., eyes
lang – adj., adv., long
mair – adj., adv., more
muckle – adj., great, huge, tall; good (the word appears in the episode only)
pintle – n., “ penis. See entries for clue and reel.
reel – n., a type of dance, associated with weaving and spinning, emphasizing this kind of pattern and movement (i.e., “dance the reel”). “
rowe – v., to roll
snaw – n., snow
socht – v., sought
spreid – v., spread
strath – n., “A strath is a large valley, typically a river valley that is wide and shallow (as opposed to a glen which is typically narrower and deep). An anglicisation of the Gaelic word srath, it is one of many that have been absorbed into common use in the English language. It is commonly used in rural Scotland to describe a wide valley, even by non-Gaelic speakers.” – Wikipedia
For the song’s purposes, the name of the town itself may also serve as a sexual metaphor, in the sense of its wideness and openness, i.e., lasciviousness or moral looseness.
thies – n., pl., thighs
toun – n., town
I think the rest is reasonably discernible from context.
The atmosphere created by the sum of the lyrics is one of wild, whirling entertainment featuring drink, dance, the overt mechanisms of the sexual act, and a lust insatiable beyond “staying power.” The song relates the town of Strathbogie as a notorious den of reckless, extravagant (“wanton”) pleasure taking.
And without further delay, the Scottish bawdy folk song “The Reels of Bogie,” as retrieved online from pages 2 and 3 in the collection titled Merry Muses of Caledonia by famous Scots poet Robert Burns. Note that “The Reel of Bogie” is also claimed and played as an Irish folk song.
To read the version of the song lyrics adapted for the episode, see my other post on this topic: Adapted Bawdy Lyrics: Outlander TV Series, Episode 114, “The Search.”
To locate the whole region that was once a town in Scotland, see Strathbogie on a map in the district of Aberdeenshire.
For a comprehensive look at Scots music and cultural tradition, visit Scots Language Centre.
Catch the next and likely so-far darkest episode of Outlander on Starz this Saturday at 9pm EDT. Brace yourself, though. The omnipresence of the sex motif, so playfully explored in “The Search,” takes a turn into the disturbingly perverse in “Wentworth Prison.” #BlackJackIsBack
As of October 2016, my new post excerpts and analyzes an original poem by Robert Burns: Famous Poets’ Nature Poetry, 5: Of Mice, Men and Rabbie Burns
I really enjoyed your piece, Eli! It very much resonated with me! I keep finding posts and comments like yours that are so in sync with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (1992),* to which I’ve become a convert over the past few years. I guess you really do find what you look for. Perhaps you’re familiar with the book. A huge part of Cameron’s program aligns with your sentiments in this post. Cameron spends much text encouraging the child in us to play–even, or especially, in a messy way–at art, in whatever form.
If it is to “work” for you and your readers, I think initial creative writing (both fiction and non-fiction, even journalism and scholarly work), like any art, has to feel something like play, something with a natural flow and ease and subconscious hum about it. Editing is the real work, as it calls for a more analytical mode and purpose, the imposition of structure upon the raw, lovely “mess.”
Coming across your post, Eli, also reinforces my last post, a response to resisting perfectionism in favor of simply making art. A perfectionist approach to play certainly is no fun, just as it is often counterproductive to even the adult-like goals of one’s writing. Initial, rough drafts of creative output should be a flawed fountain of fun.
Many people do not enjoy their professions, trades, or jobs, and the same can be true for writers, but it doesn’t have to be.
Play-write instead of playing “right,” and you’ll be on the right writing track.
See my previous posts on the theme of perfectionism vs. the artist’s way (a.k.a., the way of beautiful imperfection). They make up almost one-third of my total number of posts, I’m just realizing after compiling the list.
*Disclaimer: I feel compelled to note that, although you may notice a pattern of “promotion” here, I solemnly swear I am in no way in the employ or service of Julia Cameron or her associates and have no financial incentive to promote her work. I just like it–clearly! 🙂 Looks like it’s time for a new category page.
For the next few posts, I’d like to share some of my recent discoveries, reflections, and experimental steps in my poetry writing process. My motives will become fully evident farther down the page.
Mainly, though, I heeded the principle I learned in teacher training that meta-cognition, or meta-writing—which is thinking about thinking, or writing about writing—would aid that process and improve my work. I know already that with a clearer, steadier process and better results, my motivation to keep working on my craft will also increase.
I hope you find this series insightful and enjoyable. I invite you to share your thoughts and resources throughout by commenting, reblogging, or tweeting me @Carrielt37.
The Verse Writing Process, Part I: Motivation
The impetus came from my participation in the free, online Writing 201: Poetry course through The Daily Post, for which I am extremely grateful.
For those of you not familiar with the course, here’s my brief description and evaluation:
The prompts were good, and I think writing prompts are a generally useful tool.
The presentation of the course, also good, involved each assignment addressing a new form, device, and topic.
The pace for poetry writing posed an interesting challenge to me. I was able to keep up with the daily assignments at first, but I found unrealistic the expectation of daily production as difficulty and the accumulation of assignments increased.
I understand that it was meant to be a crash course that encourages plunging in without too much forethought and certainly little to no focus on editing, but after completing Day 3, an acrostic poem about trust using internal rhyme, I had trouble achieving lift-off.
Still, forward motion did and still does occur thanks to my attentive participation in the course.
My Poetry Writing Background
For me, poetic phrases come readily once the pen has been roaming the paper for a bit. However, bona fide poems of any length or complexity, good ones, take time, thought, revision, and sometimes research or re-reading of established poets’ work for inspiration and guidance.
I have been trying my hand at poetry since age 10, and even into my early 20’s I could find myself clinging to the childish expectation that the poem would be finished and polished upon first drafting. Well, perhaps it was more of a hope than an expectation, but either way it meant I put minimal effort into revision, though I didn’t always see it that way at the time.
Granted, part of the reason may have been because I did not know quite how to go about revising a poem. Only very recently have I realized that revision may not have been the issue at all.
My interest in poetry sprang more from a love of words, their sounds, and how they can fit together than it did from creating a coherent, cohesive message through the poem. I explored ideas and sounds, but exploration, rather than communication, was the main goal. At times, I ventured into nonsensical territory intentionally and with gusto. At others, I just couldn’t separate sense from nonsense.
I suppose this is a natural phase to experience as a poet, but I felt inadequate in my college verse writing class and understandably dejected when my entries into poetry contests brought no recognition. Then, not long after college, verse writing became a much less frequent activity.
A Helping Hand
Unless you’re especially talented or highly skilled from long-term schooling and disciplined practice, no creative undertaking begins its creation being good nor ends up great on the first pass, and for many writers, the same can be said about their long-term development. That’s what makes an engaged, supportive writing community so beneficial, and sometimes instrumental, to a writer’s development.
For this reason, I am grateful to have found the blogging world, WordPress.com, and The Daily Post, among other resources. It’s just not the same to read writer’s magazines or books about writing for motivation, momentum, or inspiration. The dusty stacks of writing periodicals strewn about my home and the rows of unread writing books on my bookcase attest to this truth for me.
Those do have their place, certainly, but the interaction of an online or in-person writing course, forum, or group adds a critical element of weight, relevance, and, most of all, energy to the work.
Although I have opted not to force a daily product from the Writing 201 course on poetry via The Daily Post, the initial feedback and opportunity to read others’ work have boosted my confidence and motivation as the daily assignments take on the more passive resource role. These feelings have made the prompts seem as interactive as they first were, and certainly as useful.
? If you participated in the course, what did you think of it?
? What resources help you in your poetry writing?
Please share any thoughts you may have about the poetry writing process.
In the next post, On Process: Verse Writing, Part II: Developing an Idea, Trying a New Form, I’ll discuss what inspired me to delve at last into Day Five’s assignment to write an elegy related to fog using metaphor, as well as the realization that development, not just revision, could be a vital missing piece for my usual poetry writing process.