Oxford English DictionaryA Poem on the Oxford English Dictionary, by Maurice J. O’Sullivan The Society August 27, 2020 Culture, Humor, Poetry 9 Comments Editing with the OED for Rita Bornstein __Like a mental abattoir, the OED, With brumous exactitude, looms over me As my blue pen prunes my cachaemic prose, Decorticating glut in orderly rows. Excessive eikonology, they say, May work for those who love facetiae And frilly essays built of guipure lace, Those tissues of words and thoughts with no halfpace, No space to pause, reflect. No illeist I, Though jackanapes perhaps, I modify Each phrase and kettlestitch each paragraph With care but know that some lochetic gaffe Lies lurking in my path. Will my merisms Now go too far, a nimiety of prisms? Have my ideas begun obambulating, Not Opus One but grapes now passulating? Pure quatsch? Or something that might resonate? __We dream of reboant words that echo and skate Through time, of works that fill sacraria, Of a tonant literary aria, But fear a future in umbratic shelves Ignored or mocked by careless, vafrous elves. If this be truly whifflery not art, I’ll seek a xenagogue to chart My way to ylem’s distant edge, imbibing there Its zymic brew and reveling in zoetic air. A Cheat Sheet Abattoir (slaughterhouse) Brumous (wintry, foggy) Cachaemic (diseased or poisoned blood) Decorticating (peel off, remove bark) Eikonology (metaphor) Facetiae (books of inappropriate or lewd nature) Guipure (lace with no ground or mesh) Halfpace (landing or broad step) Illeist (one who refers to self in third person) Jackanapes (impudent child, conceited) Kettlestitch (a stitch at the head and foot of a section of a book) Lochetic (waiting in ambush) Merisms (rhetorical device of contrasting two parts of a subject—e.g., dungeons and dragons) Nimiety (excess) Obambulating (wander about) Passulating (drying grapes to make raisins) Quatsch (nonsense) Reboant (marked by reverberating, resounding) Sacraria, (place for sacred objects) Tonant (thundering) Umbratic (shadowy) Vafrous (cunning, sly) Whifflery (trifling) Xenagogue (guide for strangers) Ylem (primlordial matter of the universe) Zymic (fermenting) Zoetic (living, vital) The former President of the College English Association and currently President Elect of the Florida Historical Society, Maurice J. O’Sullivan, Kenneth Curry Professor of English at Rollins College, is an award-winning teacher, scholar, columnist, and filmmaker. At Rollins he has served as President of the Faculty, Chair of Humanities, and Chair of the English Department, and has published a dozen books and over a hundred articles, essays, and columns on literature, Florida, popular culture, Shakespeare, religion, Irish culture, education, and current events. The Orlando Sentinel called him the Sports Grammarian and the Orlando Weekly describes him as a “boundary-cracking lit professor.” In 2019 the City of Winter Park proclaimed March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Maurice “Socky” O’Sullivan Day. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 9 Responses Leo Zoutewelle August 27, 2020 Humor? So, now what… Reply Joseph S. Salemi August 27, 2020 WOW! An amazingly crafted and conceived poem! Fine work, Professor O’Sullivan. Reply E. V. Wyler August 27, 2020 You must be a wicked Scrabble player! I was starting to develop an inferiority complex … until I saw the “cheat sheet” … and laughed heartily! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant August 27, 2020 This is a logophile’s linguistic delight. Although, I must say the word “fright” would have replaced “delight” if the Cheat Sheet was missing… a very clever move. On a serious note, I fully appreciate the amount of work that has gone into this admirably conceived poem – I love it! Reply Margaret Coats August 27, 2020 Especially admire the formal closure “couplet” of two zany and zealotic “z” words. Reply David Watt August 28, 2020 You have created a poem for the delectation of anyone who appreciates the full scope of the English language. “If this be truly whifflery not art, I’ll seek a xenagogue to chart..” provides the additional element of a shakespearean flavour. Reply C.B. Anderson August 29, 2020 The next time I write a poem that contains rare unfamiliar words, perhaps I should include a cheat sheet for those who object to the implementation of the full scope of the English language vocabulary. Or maybe not. After all, it is the reader’s, not the writer’s, duty to divine the lexical meaning of the work at hand — the writer proposes, and the reader disposes. I would deem this poem a masterpiece of light poetry, were not the underlying problem it exposes so dead serious. Reply Monty September 4, 2020 What a brilliant concept, Maurice; and how cleverly you’ve used a poem to convey said concept. I must confess that after reading the first 6-8 lines, I thought to myself: ‘This chap’s obviously swallowed a thesaurus for breakfast, and he’s just being ostentatious’. But the further I read on, the more intrigued I became: as I began to sense that there was some sort of purpose behind the showy words. But even once I reached the end, I still never had an inkling as to what that purpose was. But then I saw the cheat-sheet . . and the rest, as they say, is hysterical. Reply Don Shay September 11, 2020 Maith thú, Socky! (Approbatory encomiums are in order.) I’m probably the only one you know who uses all of these words on an almost daily basis. Not. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.