Saturday, December 19, 2009


Papadendrion Again

From Eric Thomson:
Dictionary Johnson and Papadendrion Johnson were consubstantial. One of the two quotations Johnson provides for his definition of 'axe' is literally disarming, leaving the definiendum unseen and unheard. Only a tree-lover could end a dictionary entry for such an instrument of havoc with the words 'a venerable sight':

There stood a forest on the mountain's brow,
Which overlook'd the shaded plains below
No sounding axe presum'd these trees to bite,
Coeval with the world, a venerable sight.

[Dryden's translation of Ov. Met. VIII 329-30
'Silva frequens trabibus, quam nulla ceciderat aetas,
incipit a plano devexaque prospicit arva']

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