Monday, March 31, 2008

origins, gardening, child noises

In Robert Birchfield's elegant book The English Language, I come across the derivation of the word "daffodil". Although there is no close botanical connection with the asphodels of the lilly family, the word apparently comes from "asphodel", having evolved from that into its present form, via "affodil".

There is a neighbouring front garden which (pleasing to me) is neglected. Earlier this year, violets grew profusely, and now prodigious dandelions are opening like aspiring sunflowers, as though cultivated with love and patience. In a way this garden answers Barrett Bonden's comment yesterday. A man accustomed to wind in the rigging, rope and tar, a tilting deck, the creak of rowlocks, the rudder under his hand and salt spray over his shoulder, may leave the land to landsmen, without guilt or misgiving. For want of the sailor's hand, the rose will flourish and the oak not perish.

In the garden through which I pass to get to the vegetables, I usually hear birds singing but to day the primary school up the road has its break, and the voices of school children are added to those of blackbirds and tits.

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