Friday, October 5, 2012

Manly + Manley (for Manley or Manly)

A yard is a terrible thing to waste, and every summer I watch as the epic battle of Grass versus Crabgrass, Clover versus Purslane, and all the other warring weeds in between takes place out on the patchy plot of sandy dirt behind my house. I sigh as the flowers I've tried to grow shrivel up in the sun and fade in the shade. And I vow to do better at this next year. But then all is forgiven and forgotten for a time as the entire yard becomes blanketed in yellow, brown, and orange leaves from the rapidly denuded trees that are hovering nearby. One of the first poems I remember studying in high school (and the very first one I chose to memorize during a recent attempt to commit a variety of them to heart) was called "Spring & Fall: To a Young Child" by Gerard Manley Hopkins: "Margaret, are you grieving / Over Goldengrove unleaving? / Leaves, like the things of man, you / With your fresh thoughts care for, can you? / Ah! as the heart grows older / It will come to such sights colder / By and by, nor spare a sigh / Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie; / And yet you wíll weep and know why..." I love that word, leafmeal. (What do health-conscious caterpillars eat for breakfast? Answer: Leafmeal!) I noticed bags full of leaves (soon to be turned into a sort of "leafmeal" by the city, and eventually into compost for the community gardeners next year) lined up along the streets this morning, waiting to be picked up with the weekly trash and recycling. Somehow it all seems rather sad, and makes me want to skip right over winter and pick up again in the spring. "... Now no matter, child, the name: / Sorrow's springs are the same. / Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed / What heart heard of, ghost guessed: / It is the blight man was born for, / It is Margaret you mourn for." There were 29 cases of today's combination typo in OhioLINK, and 210 in WorldCat. Some of them were false positives; some had or probably should have had an explanatory "sic" or "i.e." on them; some involved antiquated titles that may have included personal names written differently on the work itself than on the authorized headings in NACO. And then there was one record where I wasn't quite sure whether we were dealing with typos or wordplay: A Queer Chivalry: The Homoerotic Asceticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins, including chapter headings such as "Queer Courtship: Veiled Eros in a Manly Craft" and "Manly Beauty: A Solace and a Scourge."

(Young British poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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