Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Word of the Day: Brichthorn & Clocynth

context: The poet Adonis is calling forth a better world.

darkness of the sea,
ignore this feast of corpses.
Bring the earth to blossom
with your winds.
Banish plague and teach the very rocks
to dance and love.”

The goddess of the sand prostrates herself.
Under brichthorn
the spring rises like clocynth from the lips
or life from the sea.

definition: For neither word is there a definition. I figured “brichthorn” was some type of plant. What animal has thorns? I didn’t need to know what it looked like. However, I had no idea what a “clocynth” was. A plant? A song? So I popped it into the query box at a couple dictionary sites. I was asked, “Do you mean ‘colocynth’?” According to dictionary.com a colocynth is “a plant, Citrullus colocynthis, belonging to the gourd family, of the warmer parts of Asia, the Mediterranean region, etc., bearing a round, yellow or green fruit with a bitter pulp.”

Once I’d hassled “clocynth” I went back to “brichthorn.” No dictionary website liked “brichthorn.” Could it be a typo? Do birches have thorns? Yes, it seems birch trees have thorns.

Are there any books without typos? Usually a typo is easy to correct mentally. Sometimes typos are so easy to correct mentally that the correction does not reach the page.

source: Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness, edited by Carolyn Forche. 1993.

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