This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

The House of Hanover by Walter Savage Landor.

The great mystery about the English poet/dramatist Walter Savage Landor is why on earth he chose to use his middle name professionally. I've avoided him for years on the assumption that he was yet another grim Victorian.

Walter Savage Landor ILN.jpg

But actually he wasn't. He was known by his friends as the gentlest of men. 

Unfortunately he was at least as efficient at collecting enemies.

The basic trouble seems to have been that he couldn't keep his mouth shut. He was expelled from school and university (though that was for shooting at the windows of a noisy fellow-student) and he was regularly asked to go out when his family was expecting visitors in case he caused embarrassment. He always proved incapable of holding back from insulting people (though he was a generous critic), and his exasperated but affectionate friends were always having to charge to the rescue.

Fortunately Landor was rather good at a zingy come-back line, even if it did sometimes take him a couple of years to think of one.

Even his wife took him back, in the end.

Landor wrote poems in Latin and English (some very much admired), imaginary dialogues between famous people, and some unsuccessful plays. 

I'm not sure you can honour this effusion, below, with the name of poetry, exactly, but it's a joy, and shows Landor's genius for Just Not Caring.

George the First was always reckoned
Vile, but viler George the Second.
And what mortal ever heard
And good of George the Third.
But when from earth the Fourth descended
God be praised the Georges ended.

Unfair, in parts: but so funny that I find I don't care much, either.

Word To Use Today: savage. This word comes from the Old French sauvage, from the Latin silvāticus, belonging to a wood, from silva, a wood.

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