Slit-pupilled eyes

Slit-pupilled eyes

The Countess lives in a sea of white cats who hang upon her every word, here looking up at her lovingly. Even her voice addressing them is likened to a purr. ‘Every luminous slit-pupilled eye was upon her. The only movement lay in the vibration in their throats....
Collective contentment

Collective contentment

Among the most cherished beings in Mervyn Peake’s sprawling, imaginative Gormenghast, are the teeming masses of white cats belonging to the Countess.  She has more love for furred and feathered friends than for humans, even those of her own producing, though...
A cry like …

A cry like …

Williamson pays close attention to the calls and cries of birds and animals, and here he distinguishes between the mutual call of a dog and a bitch otter. I found the description of White-tip’s cry extraordinary. ‘White-tip answered him. Her cry was like...
Like fighting polar bears

Like fighting polar bears

What a way to capture the roar of a powerful river in full flux. ‘… back into the lower river again, which roared and heaved like fighting polar bears.’   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers,...
Yarr

Yarr

‘Deadlock yarred through his bare teeth.’ ‘Between his teeth the hound yarred…’ A word now apparently limited to dialect, but feel free to revive it more generally.  If anyone snarls or growls at you, you can tell them to ‘Stop...
Croodle

Croodle

‘Where pigeons sat and croodled.’ A cooing cosy word for a bird, but also meaning to snuggle up, nestle in, cuddle or crouch, for love or warmth. Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F....
Clitter

Clitter

‘Tarka gave chase to a rabbit during the next night, bolting it from a hillside clitter of rocks in a hollow at the head of a cleave.’ This seems a variant of ‘clatter’ and you can imagine rocks and scree pattering and clattering down the hill...
Skirl

Skirl

‘The owl was hearkening, however, for the prick of the claws of mice on leaves, and when it heard these tiny noises, it stared until it saw movement, and with a skirling screech that made the mouse crouch in a fixity of terror sailed to the ground and clutched...
Whippering

Whippering

‘… the whippering cries of golden plover.’ This seems to be a Williamson coinage to describe the cry of a bird.  I haven’t found it in the Big Fat OED, source of all (English) words.  See also ‘stitter’ and ‘chitter’....

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