This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Saturday Rave: The Girdle, by Edmund Waller

Edmund Waller was a poet who, like John Suckling, found himself struggling to survive all the reverses of the English Civil War.

He did survive (though only by betraying his comrades and paying lots of bribes). He then, understandably, went into exile. He didn't return until after the re-establishment of the monarchy.

But still, he was an interesting poet. The fashion at the time was for serious poetry to be so dense as to be almost impenetrable, but Waller began to write more open and straightforward verse in the couplets (that's pairs of consecutive lines that rhyme) that were to dominate English verse for the next couple of hundred years. 

This isn't a serious poem, but it shows the form.

On a Girdle

That which her slender waist confined,
Shall now my joyful temples bind;
No monarch but would give his crown,
His arms might do what this has done.

It was my heaven's extremest sphere,
The pale which held my lovely deer,
My joy, my grief, my hope, my love,
Did all within this circle move.

A narrow compass, and yet there
Dwelt all that's good, and all that's fair;
Give me but what this ribbon bound,
Take all the rest the sun goes round.

Though what on earth he looked like prancing around with some woman's girdle wrapped round his head I shudder to think.

Hmm...perhaps that explains why the government agents failed to overlook him when he was plotting to take over London.

Word To Use Today: girdle. Although recently a girdle has been a small elastic corset, sadly in Waller's day it was probably a sash or a belt. The Old English form was gyrdel. It's connected to the word gird.

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