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Saturday 12 May 2018

Saturday Rave: Life is but a melancholy flower. Anon

Is it possible to be delighted by a detail of prosody?

See what you think.

There are several songs containing the words Life is but a melancholy flower, but the one that has given me joy since childhood is the one that's sung to the tune of Frère Jacques (known in this neck of the woods as Frair-oh Jacker. Yes, that one).

Joy, you may say? When the sentiment is so full of gentle sorrow, such an all-pervading nostalgia, a sweet acknowledgement that existence is a thing of a fleeting and elusive beauty which slips constantly past our senses and leaves, as the Bard said, not a rack behind?


I admit that the first two lines can get you down a bit:

Life is but a, life is but a
Melancholy flower, melancholy flower...

Fair enough, by this time we are all feeling so wistful, so full of existential angst, that we are practically ready to put on a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles and a duffle coat, and devote our lives to tobacco, apricot cocktails, and Paris.

The last two lines, moreover, are repeats of the first two: but, as I said before, oh, the delights of prosody! 

Life is but a, life is but a,
Melancholy flower, melancholy flower,
Life is but a melon, life is but a melon,
Cauliflower, cauliflower.

So true, too isn't it? 

So very, very true...

Word To Use Today: melancholy. This word comes from the Greek melankholia, from melos, black, plus kholē, bile. (As it happens, melon comes from the Greek mēlon, apple, and the cauli- bit of cauliflower is from the Latin caulis, which means stem. Neat, huh?)

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