Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Liddell and Scott

Thomas Hardy, Liddell and Scott On the Completion of their Lexicon:
'Well, though it seems
Beyond our dreams,'
Said Liddell to Scott,
'We've really got
To the very end,
All inked and penned
Blotless and fair
Without turning a hair,
This sultry summer day, A.D.
Eighteen hundred and forty-three.

'I've often, I own,
Belched many a moan
At undertaking it,
And dreamt of forsaking it.
-- Yes, on to Pi,
When the end loomed nigh,
And friends said: "You've as good as done,"
I almost wished we'd not begun.
Even now, if people only knew
My sinkings, as we slowly drew
Along through Kappa, Lambda, Mu,
They'd be concerned at my misgiving,
And how I mused on a College living
    Right down to Sigma,
    But feared a stigma
If I succumbed, and left old Donnegan
For weary freshmen's eyes to con again:
And how I often, often wondered
What could have led me to have blundered
So far away from sound theology
To dialects and etymology;
Words, accents not to be breathed by men
Of any country ever again!'

    'My heart most failed,
    Indeed, quite quailed,'
    Said Scott to Liddell,
    'Long ere the middle!...
    'Twas one wet dawn
    When, slippers on,
    And a cold in the head anew,
    Gazing at Delta
    I turned and felt a
    Wish for bed anew.
    And to let supersedings
    Of Passow's readings
    In dialects go.
    "That German has read
    More than we!" I said;
Yea, several times did I feel so!...

'O that first morning, smiling bland,
With sheets of foolscap, quills in hand,
To write ἀάατος and ἀαγής,
Followed by fifteen hundred pages,
What nerve was ours
So back to our powers,
Assured that we should reach ᾠώδης
While there was breath left in our bodies!'

Liddell replied: 'Well, that's past now'
The job's done, thank God anyhow.'

    'And yet it's not,'
    Considered Scott,
    'For we've to get
    Subscribers yet
    We must remember;
    Yes; by September.'

'O Lord; dismiss that. We'll succeed.
Dinner is my immediate need.
I feel as hollow as a fiddle,
Working so many hours,' said Liddell.

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