Welcome to Poetry Friday! This week, we are fortunate to have the kind and charming Patricia Franz as our host. Patricia offers us a peek at her wish list for Santa this year.  Please enjoy visiting all of the Poetry Friday poets at Patricia's blog Reverie.

Recently, I found a massive Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary of The English Language, Unabridged (© 1975) at a book swap. 

I picked it up, thinking that I might use its large pages for wrapping paper or art projects, but as I started paging through, I realized that I mightn’t have the heart to shred it.  This five-inch-thick behemoth boasts finger notches, speckled page edges, and most importantly that musty old-book smell. 

Do you love the smell of books?  The first thing I do when browsing in a bookstore is take a deep inhale.  Apparently, my dog enjoys “book smell” too because she keeps walking by and sniffing this dictionary.  She also sneaks a quick lick if she thinks I'm not looking.  I digress.

Among other contents, this relic includes:

  • The Indo-European Family Tree of Languages
  • An Outline of the History of the English Language
  • Sub-dictionaries of: Biography, Geography, Noted Names in Fiction, Mythology, and Legend, Foreign Words and Phrases, and Scripture Proper Names
  • Common Abbreviations
  • Practical Business Mathematics
  • Forms of Address
  • Tables of Weights and Measures
  • Special Signs and Symbols (Did you know there are symbols for Mercury, Venus, Mars?)
  • Presidents of the USA  (With a 1975 copyright, how did they know Jimmy Carter would be president in 1977?)
  • Vice Presidents and Cabinet Officers
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Constitution of the United States
  • A Brief History of Canada  (Why only and specifically Canada, I wonder?)
  • Charter of the United Nations
  • Air Distances between Cities
  • Geographical Features of the World
  • Commercial and Financial Terms

Phew!  No wonder it is so thick. 

Also, it contains words.  Lots of words. 

There are some fun and old-timey words.

Of course, I had to try to mash these (almost) randomly-chosen words into a quick poem:

The Injured Gribble

Whilst perched upon my buckboard bench,
absorbed within a dream,
I came upon an injured gribble,
poppling in a stream*.

He’d clung among his gribble peers –
a glomerous, wet hunk.
Quickly, I discerped the fellow
from that gunky chunk.

I wrapped him scarfwise in my kerchief,
trying not to wrick,
and if you know your gribbles well,
you'll know that was a trick!

Thenadays, we all believed
that gribbles made good pets.
Nowadays, I have to say,
I’m having some regrets.

*Let's assume it was at least a brackish stream, as gribbles live in salt water.  
As for the gribble, he's actually kind of cute. 

Gribble, © Britannica

Well, the poem leaves something to be desired (it borders on the nonsense poem that I wrote several weeks ago), but it was a fun exercise!

Now, what to do with this brick of a dictionary...

28 comments

  • Oh, Tracy you are singing my SONG and dancing my dance. There are lots of these big old treasures around. Weeding some and finding some weeded editions are what led me to choosing WORD as my O-L-W for 2023. I have been turning pages from this same dictionary into holiday gift bags. I'm glad you are honoring the words in this way, though. The sacredness of WORD is nothing to minimize...it's EVERYTHING. What fun you've found with words. Oh, my goodness...this post just makes me so happy.
  • I love every bit, Tracey, and don't dismiss your poem as nonsense is bad; it's a wonderfully laid out song for a 'gribble,' a sea creature new to me! You know I work at a used bookstore & we do get all kinds of old books in our donations. Yesterday, the complete Barlett's Quotations! I imagine someone, as you love this new 'tome,' will love it. 
    • I did not know that you work at a used book store, but what a lovely way to allow previously loved books to find a new home.  I am glad you are playing matchmaker for Barlett!  : )
  • Brava!!! *thunderous applause* Your poem is too clever; you chose such fabulous words. That book is HUGE and I can't believe it contains all those things!! Wow. I wonder if I can find something glomerous to eat this afternoon . . . :D
    • Thank you, Jama!  It is interesting that you associated glamorous with food.  That use did not occur to me, but I can see it now!
  • Yay! Midway thru reviewing the various words, I hoped there would be a poem incorporating them - and you came through! My two favorites: glomerous and gribble! As for what to do with this treasure, it might make a great step stool to those upper cabinets?  BTW -- I remember in my library growing up laying my fingers in the finger notches of dictionaries or encylopedias. There was something very satisfying, letting them rest at the edge of a page. What a wonder that book!
  • Tracey, your poem reminds me of the oft repeated phrase-'new ideas from old words.' Your newly minted poem reminds me of Lewis Carroll's Jabbawocky.' I retain a strong fascination for old words so your pastiche appeals very much. I too have a collection of old dictionaries and occasionally go excavating for treasure. What fun! Your poem is a triumph, exulting these loving sounding old words. They live again because of your efforts...
    • Alan, thank you for your thoughtful and kind comments!  I admire your preservation efforts in keeping a collection of old dictionaries!  I am struggling to figure out where to keep just one.  : )
  • Wow. I feel totally upstaged! I came to PF with a single fun word and look what you've done with eight of them!! Well played, my fellow wordsmith, well played!
    • Haha, Mary Lee, I could never upstage you!  Truth be told, I had one word in my list that I was unsuccessful at squeezing into the poem: mackle (1. A blurred or double impression in printing. 2. A spot; specifically, in printing, a blemish in press-work made by a double impression, or by slipping or scraping, or by a wrinkle in the paper.)  I like the word, but it was off-topic once I got rolling. We can just stick it in our back pockets for another day!
  • Tracey, what a great score.  I am not sure I would be able to shred that 10 pounds of word salad.  I needed to read a fun, playful poem this morning. Thank you.  Your swap is in the works. I hope to mail by the end of next week.  

    Edited on Saturday, 09 December 2023 13:03 by Jone.
    • Jone, thank you!  Yeah, ten pounds is a lot of word salad!  Don't worry about the swap if you have a lot going on.  All good!

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