Monday, April 01, 2013

Ireland, Part 2


Frank Delaney

Ireland, Part 1 can be found here

Looking back over my little scribbled notes on 5" by 7" note paper torn from my nightstand notebook, I find quotes that grabbed me, words that were brand-new and some that were somewhat new but are not in my usable vocabulary yet, and lots of alliterative lines.

Alliteration, for me, is a wondrous tool that wordsmiths use to make a point. Almost daily in my classes I am pointing out -- or rather -- asking students to find the alliteration. And then, I give my little kudos in front of the students to the author. I tell them that authors seek to find these wonderful alliterative combinations (plus similes and metaphors); it's part of the talent-gift they have; it doesn't just happen!; these devices are perfectly placed; and authors work and work to make their words work. Last week, a couple of classes were memorizing the first of four verses to "The Star-Spangled Banner," and right there in the middle of the first verse were "bombs bursting" and "rockets' red glare." I guess I should save this for another post on alliteration. 

Back to Ireland  now,  I thoroughly enjoyed Delaney's discussion of the Dark Ages! Through a newly entered character, a famous professor of history, T. Bartlett Ryle proclaims, "The most disgracefully neglected period of Irish history stretches from the year seven-ninety-five to the year eleven-seventy. Those dates are in what many people call the Dark Ages. I am not one of those people. . . . Most of the stuff that's spoken about that era is good enough to grow roses in." I just love that!: " . . . good enough to grow roses in." 

Character Professor Ryle goes on during this, his first lecture of the semester, to say 
. . . you should by now be taking notes. These notes shall become your moorings for the entire course of study with me. I advise you never to permit the wide, flat -- and as yet empty -- barges of your intellect to drift far from the notes you take in my lectures." 
I love both the metaphor and the message here. Our intellect as barges to be filled as they travel to different ports!

As I read through Ireland, particularly the parts with this Ryle character, I longed for a teacher like him to teach me. 

You know, I may be on the other side of the fifties-decade of my life, but I still long to learn. And I still like a real flesh-and-blood teacher. But a good one. Like Ryle.

A few pages later, Delaney, through the character of Ryle, details some early Irish history, describing that
"the people of England were in and out of here like a fiddler's elbow. No doubt about it, folk went back and forth between the two islands like a weaver's shuttle. . . . "
 What a vivid simile! "[A] fiddler's elbow" and "a weaver's shuttle." That works so well because both of those images are attached to another part of the whole and exude an image of moving between but not far apart. One could not as readily use that image for travel between, say, England and the U.S. The distance is too great. But the movement of a fiddler's elbow and a weaver's shuttle is limited. It is close. Just as England is close to Ireland. 

Delaney is a masterful wordsmith. I can't say how much I have loved reading this work and have appreciated his talent. I've not read anything else of his and am almost afraid to. I'm afraid I will be disappointed. Because I wonder if anything else could measure up with his craft in Ireland.

So here I've written this much about two small parts of the book, and I've got so much more. I'll add a few new-to-me words I learned and will return later for Part 3. I've only gotten halfway through the book with my notes, so this could turn into a four-part-er. 

Anyway, onto words.
 
-fjord:  What is enlightening to me is that the suffix -fjord was given to locations established by the Vikings and since then, the j is dropped, changing the suffix to -ford. Thus, Wexford and Waterford (where we spent a delightful night is a most-cosy hotel which served the best tea ever).  
Granville Hotel, Waterford

Forfend:  To prevent, or to protect or defend.
 
Sibilant:  A hissing sound. I actually came across this word again shortly after reading it in  in Ireland. I tell my students this too, that when they learn new words not to be surprised how often those very new words will cross their paths. And sure enough, they come back to tell me just that. I think that's because once we have taken time to become familiar with a new word, maybe not even remembering what it means exactly, just being familiar with the sight and hearing of it, we take notice, whereas before, we would have just glossed over it. 

And one quote:
"The heroic in man is something for which we should all reach in ourselves. If we find we don't possess our own heroism, we should respect it in wherever we come across it, in friend or in foe."

~ ~  Until the next part ~ ~ 

 

1 comment:

Carol in Oregon said...

I loved T. Barlett Ryle's lecture. I copied many sentences in my commonplace book.

Delaney won't disappoint you. I highly recommend Simple Courage: The True Story of Peril on the Sea.

And Janie, I had never before made the connection between fjord and -ford. Of course, it delighted me!