Triologisms

Pithy, evocative imagery in three-legged microcosms of meaning.  Having coined the term ‘triologism’ I believe this to be the only collection of these tum-tee-tum phrases in the universe.

Updated Tuesdays … triologism day!  You’ll never see this day of the week the same way again.

Scavenger-like faculty

No detail is too small to be filed in Steerpike's sharp, archival mind; all may prove useful for eventual manipulation, blackmail, or other use. See another insight into this chill scheme-squirmy mind. Beware the Steerpikes of the world and shun their...

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...

Rain-thrashed pools

Gormenghast is made for storms and this one allows Steerpike to further insinuate himself into the life of the castle. Here he rescues the daughter of the Earl, though nothing Steerpike does is from gentle motives, all is calculation. 'A hundred...

Onion-outlined turnmoil

Such a detailed description of a passing light effect created by a boat moving through night waters. Particularly original is that 'onion-outlined' churn. 'A boat, its dark shape looking faintly ominous, sculled towards the island and broke the flimsy...

Helot-haunted lowlands

Helots were the serfs of ancient Sparta, from the town of Laconia and only a notch above slaves. They were sometimes induced to appear drunkenly before the youths of Sparta in order to put these respectable kids off getting trashed.  An interesting...

Cormorant-haunted castle

An abandoned fortress, occupied only by cormorants.  No wonder, the human inhabitants probably fled an atmosphere described as the 'architecture of hatred'. 'The great storm beaten and cormorant-haunted castle at Coroni as "the architecture of hatred".'...

Pard-like stubble

I can only imagine this refers to a patchy or spotted colour combination, as 'pard' means leopard or panther, or another animal resembling either. 'Perhaps this permanent pard-like stubble ...' Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern...

My kinda cats I

This short description of the street cats of Istanbul pullulates with lively triologisms.  If you enjoy these chaps, then see My Kinda Cats II and My Kinda Cats III, and meet the noble creatures who enrich the gene pool of island cats. 'They are to be seen...

Caique-dwelling tom

Leigh Fermor's Mani has a fine selection of memorable cats.  I liked this description of the limited gene pools of island cats being occasionally expanded by a passing tom-cat enjoying a fecund night of shore-leave. For other cats and cat customs noted by...

Flask-wielding host

Despite the manifest hospitality, the flask-wielding host sounds like a walking health hazard.  However, by the time you succumb to his antimicrobial prescriptions, you may be past caring, given how great you'll feel. Regardless, I wish you optimism,...

Amber-coloured wines

There are some wonderful descriptions of Cretan wine - and its effects - in Zorba the Greek, but none of them mention 'amber-coloured', which makes it sound like a fine Tokai. I will feature the Cretan wines at a later date. '... amber-coloured wines of...

Bullet-echoing crags

Beware the bullet-echoing crags, wherever they are. You can hear those cowboy-film ricochets in this one. '... bullet-echoing crags of Acroceraunia and Epirus and Acarnania just over the water.'   Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern...

Horse-taming Argos

Leigh Fermor echoes the hundreds of Homeric triologisms, many attributing this or that characteristic to one or another Greek city or state.  Here the Argives are associated with horse-taming. Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Mani: Travels in the Southern...

Rain-swept sages

Something captivating about the idea of a rain-swept sage, impervious to the elements. And as I write this, I am looking out onto a rain-swept plain with a faint strip of grey on the horizon - the Neusiedlsee in Austria. 'Without the dialectical and...

Far-away conches

Enticing, that 'rumour', a faint whisper from a distant conch, echoes of the sea rebounding around the ravine.  And those half-whittled arrows, who whittled them, and why were they left without being completed? 'From the islanded sea the rumour of far-away...

Deep-thrilling chord

Jane Eyre knows Rochester has been emotionally overloaded and hesitates to add any more weight to his burdened heart. 'I wished to touch no deep-thrilling chord - to open no fresh well of emotion in his heart.'   Source: Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre...

Sand-traced effigy

Thoughts are intangible and yet can prove more indelible than things physically wrought. The idea of a sandy effigy effaced by storms reminds me also of advice often heard from someone I love: that when someone says something hurtful, you treat it like...

Hill-sent echo

An inexplicable and even supernatural moment in the book that proves a turning point, snapping Jane out of her acquiescence to a situation she manifestly doesn't want.  The hill-sent echo is like a calling. She duly responds.   '"Where are you?" seemed...

Life-giving elixir

These fine-minded sisters come into an inheritance adequate to free them from having to face the economic implications of remaining unmarried.  Now their spirits can expand to fill the space they were born to.  I liked the combination of ingredients in...

Fairy-like fingers

Mr. Rochester falls in love with Jane: her excellent mind and independent spirit, as well as her petite proportions, here evoked in his ring-promises. '... and I will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers with rings.'...

Light-footed running

One of the qualities Rochester loves and admires in Jane is her uprightness.  While willing to help him in any way she can, he knows she wouldn't lift one of her fairy-like fingers if he asked her to do something she thought wrong. As he learns when she...

Crisp-winged flies

A symbiosis of hovering birds and fly-pestered bullocks, the darting martins hoovering up bothersome crisp-winged flies. 'Martins twittered along the river-bank, and hovered about the heads of bullocks, taking crisp-winged flies from their muzzles and...

Bright-bubbled barrier

I liked the alliteration of this triologism, and the recurrence of bubbles in the water-washed world of otters.  Bubbles blown by an otter can be a signal of joy or fear.  Here they are created by a line of human hunters and signal danger. 'Way down the...

Light-laden drops

When did you last stop to study a light-laden drop of water, seeing in it a convex-reflected cosmos?  You have, of course, at some time, done so, haven't you? No?  Then put it to the top of your to-do list. 'Light-laden drops rolled down the green flags as...

Hunger-making smell

An undertow of this animal life-loving adventure is hunger.  We must be one of the few species having a significant segment of its global population not living with hunger as a daily driving urge. 'Food chain' takes on new meaning as Williamson portrays...

Crab-green water

I think I can imagine the shade of 'crab-green', a deep dark place where this wily old conger eel escapes its enemy the seal.  Jarrk himself is so strong that he has no enemies, allowing him, in Williamson's take, to be gentle. Except where it comes to...

Bubble-whitened water

Bubbles blow and roll through Williamson's prose, through the ebullition of both water and otters. Otters blow bubbles when they are happy and when they're scared. See also another source of bubbles in this beautiful book. 'The otters drifted on, round...

Light-smitten height

The only time I've seen the sun likened to a dandelion, here smiting the heights with light! 'When the sun, like an immense dandelion, looked over the light-smitten height of Cosdon Beacon, Tarka was returning along a lynch, or rough trackway, to the...

Age-long silt

Time flowing and settling in sand and sediment, steadily accreting new landscapes. 'As the river grew older, so the meadows and cornfields beyond its banks stretched a wider green over the age-long silt filling the valley's groin.'   Source: Henry...

Sun-hot boulder

You can see the lamb snuggling up against the warm stone radiator. And on these sultry days of August, many a sun-hot boulder.  I pepper the plant pots with pebbles to soak up the sun and protect the soil from drying out. It looks beautiful.  Elsewhere,...

Sun-stored summers

Tarka and other otters barely survive a particularly harsh winter, and this idea of the summer being stored away in the sun until the winter melts away is warming.  Elsewhere Williamson speaks of a 'sun-hot boulder' which a lamb uses as a radiator to sleep...

Purple-grey sea

Storminess at sea, as in the sky, can be purple-inked. 'Beyond the ragged horizon of the purple-grey sea...'   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death in the two rivers, illus. C.F. Tunnicliffe (Harmondsworth: Puffin...

Vapour-ringed sun

I recall seeing more vapour-ringed moons than suns, but it may be that I look at the moon more than the blinding sun. 'Every day on the Burrows was a period of silence under a vapour-ringed sun that slid into night glowing and quivering with the zones and...

Wave-worn boulders

An alliterative view of things water-worn over time.  I have a burgeoning collection of sea-smoothed pebbles and fragments of glass rounded and opaqued by beach-abrasion. 'Curled warm on the wave-worn boulders rolled there by the seas along Hercules...

Ivy-thick holly

Having seen ivy rope-throttle full grown trees, it isn't hard to imagine a holly smothered in it.  I like the crow's 'aa-aa' commentary before going back to its meditations. 'A crow awoke in an ivy-thick holly, muttered aa-aa, and laid its beak among its...

Crab-nibbled corpse

Poor, dead, ugly bird, corpse nibbled by crabs and devoured by fish. For a stunning description of this peculiar, prehensile bird, see Adam Nicolson, in his marvelous Sea Room.  Elsewhere Williamson speaks of 'crab-green'. 'Feeding with other fish on the...

Under-song voices

How lovely this idea, a bird's soft, sweet, seldom heard 'under-song'. Shhh!  Switch off the music, the television, the radio, the beeping, blinking devices, and listen.  If you can hear that under-song, you can hear the universe. 'They talked in the...

Sun-whitened clouds

This is part of a poetically imagined overview of joyous, resilient and pure-spirited swallows contemplating their coming continent-spanning migrations. 'They talked of white-and-grey seas, of winds that fling away the stroke of wings, of great...

Wind-ruffled water

A lot of dipping and splashing in water in this beautiful book, by otters at play or as prey, and by the hounds who hunt them. '... as they dipped and splashed in the wind-ruffled water.'   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life...

Shock-headed flowers

Two lovely names for a dandelion-daisy-ish yellow flower with spokes poking out like a leafy wheel. 'The shock-headed flowers of the yellow goat's beard, or John-go-to-bed-at-noon ...' Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and...

Purple-streaked stems

I never knew that hemlock grew alongside English fields, Of purple hue, it poisons you, and life to death it yields.   'He ran with them to where, amidst the purple-streaked stems of hemlock, the old man was standing on the shillets.'   Source: Henry...

Sun-splashy ripples

You can feel the warmth of a summer day with diaphanous wings darting over glittering ripples. 'She heard the rustling clicks of dragon-flies' wings over the sun-splashy ripples.'   Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the Otter: His joyful water-life and death...

Hawk-like glidings

Birds feature impressively in Williamson's minutely loving study of the life and landscape of an otter. Some are preyed upon, but overall their apparent fragility is combined with feistiness and resilience. The 'hawk-like glidings' evoke Gerard Manley...

Star-shivery water

Tarka the Otter is a magical book and stars sparkle in the sky and the water, here shivering with them.  Elsewhere the stars form water-claws. 'The fish came no nearer so he dropped down into the black, star-shivery water.'   Source: Henry Williamson,...

Raven-like croaks

Williamson's lovingly accurate study of otters includes many examples of the playfulness of these animals, be it with each other, with other species, with water, or with inanimate objects.  I liked the contented croaks of the jackdaws as they stretch wings...

Flute-like whistle

Williamson uses - and invents - a number of words to convey the sounds of otters.  Whistling can be in affection or playfulness or fear, grief or warning.  Other sounds include tissing, yikkering and yinnying. 'For she was young, and calling to the dog,...

Water-lapped trunk

A perfect spot for a hunted otter to hide and rest, to give birth, to raise cubs.  The name for an otter's hidey-hole is 'holt'. '... she had swum away down the river, and hidden in the hollow of the water-lapped trunk.' Source: Henry Williamson, Tarka the...

Star-streaming claws

Williamson's book is about otters and water, as the medium in which they thrive, mate, hunt, play and escape, bubbles and flows through it.  I liked this description of water pawing and clawing, star-streaming. Later stars are again shimmeringly reflected...

Untimely-awakened street

'The youth' mentioned here is Jesus, not yet aware of or ready for his destiny, though it pursues him through dreams and rude awakenings. May your street, your sleep, and even your life, be free of untimely awakenings. 'The youth, still standing, kept his face averted...

Thickly-foliaged cedar

Another reference to the magnficent cedar, a source of scented sap and sunset-watching shelter. 'The day grew dim. They lay down under a thickly-foliaged cedar and watched the sunset.'   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last Temptation, trans. P.A. Bien (London: Faber...

Tear-shaped pellets

This is a Biblical land and so perhaps the tear-shaped scented cedar sap pellets came from Lebanon.  Elsewhere the cedar provides a sheltering spot to watch the sunset. 'The sexton threw tear-shaped pellets of cedar sap into the censer to deodorize the air.'   Source:...

Death-white realms

A small, lonely, oppressed orphan reading A History of British Birds in search of solace and stimulus and finding instead bleak descriptions of icy northern climes ... a chill echo of the love-starved world assigned to her. 'Of these death-white realms, formed an idea...

Half-comprehended notions

I remember childhood dreams and hauntings of 'half-comprehended notions': cold war threats of nuclear annhilation, and being told the Soviet Union was bombarding us with dangerous invisible rays, or that if you swallowed an apple pip a tree would grow out of your...

Storm-beat shrub

Perfect Brontesque flora and climate, echoing the landscape of chill emotions this orphan needed to navigate to reach adulthood uncrushed, sans map but with a stubborn innate compass pointing unrelentingly towards love and freedom. 'Afar, it offered a pale blank of...

God-trodden chaos

This vivid re-telling of Christ's story evokes a human hunger for unity and enlightenment, and freedom from 'God-trodden chaos'.  This frightening triologism can be seen almost nightly on the news.  This harsh God is also said to have had a stiff neck. 'Despairing,...

Heaven-kissed Carmel

In Kazantzakis' telling of the story of Jesus, his mother does not go through life beatifically accepting her God-ordained role and motherhood. Instead she is resentful of the smiting of her husband into paralysis and the miraculous birth of an unusual, troubled son....

Newly-foliaged poplar

A curious tree for a Biblical era village, since the poplar isn't a tree you associate with the region. And this innocent image is of a young Jesus almost choosing Mary Magdalene as his wife, and in so doing opting for a more conventional, less traumatic existence as...

White-capped sea

This is Jesus being spoken to by Peter, but unable to hear through the noise of his own turmoil or the roiling noise of the crowds come to witness an earlier crucifixion, for which Christ himself made the cross.  This is a surprising start to the story of Jesus, as...

Well-nourished horses

A shocking juxtaposition of this attractive image of fine, strong, cared for horses, and their use by Roman cavalry as a form of crushing crowd control. '... and the proud well-nourished horses which trampled the Jewry underfoot.'   Source: Nikos Kazantzakis, The Last...

Wheat-complexioned face

You would not expect that this unusual hue - wheat-complexioned - describes a young and uncertain Jesus. Kazantzakis' surprising version of Christ's life was intended as a universal story of a man's struggle and triumph, to lend encouragement to our own strivings....

Previously-unsoiled lintel

A horribly vengeful way to clean an allegedly soiled lintel, from Kazantzakis' lively version of Christ's life. 'Herod ... had smeared forty adolescents with tar and ignited them as torches because they pulled down the golden eagle he had fastened to the...

Stiff-necked God

This is a tough God, stiff-necked here and elsewhere mentioned in the context of 'God-trodden chaos'.  A curious image, God having a stiff neck. His relationship with his people seems as harsh as the Biblical sun at noon. 'From every Jewish home the savage morning...

Stuff-pocket Zebedee

A hard-dealing merchant who makes money hand over fist. His elderly wife Salome is a more impressive character, however. 'And old stuff-pocket Zebedee filled his own jars and barrels for the year with the commission he took for use of the press.'   Source: Nikos...

Spike-guarded walls

The underlying theme of Jane Eyre is her refusal to be penned in by spike-guarded walls, real or metaphorical, and her reaching for the openness outside. See also 'close-set bars' and a compelling quotation from the same book on ensnaring nets. 'I discovered, too,...

Silver-white foliage

Not the silver white of leaves but of filigree-fractals frosting a window pane, a sight rarely seen since the advent of central heating, though I remember it from my childhood, a shivering finesse of trees and leaves or tributaries fanning into estuaries. '... just as...

Hard-wrung pledge

This is a generous comment on Jane Eyre's wicked stepmother, whose husband extracts a promise from her on his death-bed, pressing her to take responsibility for his young ward. Not only does she never love the 'strange child', she nearly crushes her. Bizarrely,...

Freshly-bathed earth

The freshness after rain which Rumi uses as a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment, is here presented as a source of earth's gratitude towards rain-giving heaven.  Particularly in this parched Biblical land. 'Day was breaking. The clouds had scattered; the satiated...

Desert-roughened voice

This refers to Salome (not that Salome), the upright, powerful wife of Zebedee, whose anger terrifies her son because it embodies the entire and obstinate race of Israel. Salome, elderly woman as she is, is the one with the most courage and integrity. 'Every time she...

Black-soiled Samaria

Kazantzakis' vibrant re-creation of Biblical lands and times includes earth-colour mapping of different regions. I liked the contrast of red-soiled Galilee and black-soiled Samaria. 'Leaving the red soil of Galilee behind them, they entered black-soiled Samaria.'  ...

Low-gliding and pale-beaming

We are early enough in the year for the sun to still be 'low-gliding' in the sky and 'pale-beaming' in the evenings, but its arc is rising in  trajectory and time. The daily occurrence and subtle shifts observed over weeks and months are both sources of charm. 'The...

Close-set bars

The undertow of Jane Eyre is the prising apart of, and escape from, close-set bars: intellectual, spiritual, emotional, social, the lot.  Freedom to think, feel, speak and love. See also 'spike-guarded walls' and a compelling quotation from the same book on ensnaring...

Marrow-freezing

Jane Eyre, first as a child and later as a woman, is subjected to a number of 'marrow-freezing incidents' some of which can cause a chill of remembrance which never leaves her. Yet none manages to oppress her spirit and liveliness. 'A dream had scarcely approached my...

Widest-winged condor

This novel being set in England, I liked this evocation of a splendid bird from the other side of the world.  You can see him wheeling down from an Andean eyrie in broad, confident circles, like Manley Hopkins' windhover, 'riding underneath him steady air'. '... not...

Half-blown rose

Something touching about the 'half-blown', that moment in a rose's beauty when it is heavy with the weight of its own blooming.  Too early here to see any roses in the garden - instead we have glossy burnished copper-burgundy leaves unfurling thickly around the pruned...

Blossom-blanched

One bright morning, this very one in fact, I sit down at my desk to start writing a batch of triologism posts. The first one of those selected a week or two ago happens to be mirrored by the twittering of birds outside the window, on cherry trees full of budding...

Leaden-coloured sky

Having enjoyed a sunny afternoon, I am now looking out to a leaden-coloured sky, but it doesn't feel like a departing hope - rather it's bringing more of the rain that has been absent for so much of the last year, so I sense a welcome dousing. But I liked this...

Three-cornered chair

It is years - decades - since I saw one of these, but I grew up with an oak one, Jacobean-black, made by my great-grandfather and always commandeered by my ample grandfather when he visited, to the extent that my mother referred to it as 'Daddy's chair' (which didn't...

Newly-gathered snowdrop

I have tried to schedule this to coincide with the arrival of snowdrops, which the French call 'perce neige', or snow piercer.  There are two references to snowdrops in Adam Bede, both alluding to the clean, bright souls of strong women, perhaps due to their upright...

Life-giving spirit

Having committed infanticide, Hetty clams up and shows no remorse, having a severely limited moral and emotional range beyond the capacity for self-pity. As Dinah pleads with her to tell the truth, Hetty says, with unusual self-knowledge, 'My heart is hard'. She faces...

Hard-won release

Arthur acts in the only way he can, using his influence to seek a stay of execution for Hetty, his one-time lover who faces the gallows after murdering the child he fathered by her.  She is duly saved from hanging and her sentence is commuted to deportation.  We learn...

Swift-advancing shame

Poor Hetty, her finery-flouncing superficiality has brought catastrophe upon her.  The shame so swiftly advancing isn't born of conscience, but of the social hell of disapproving discovery.  It isn't said, and for now it can't be seen, but she is pregnant by one man...

Life-long dreariness

Having been given a few trinkets by a feckless lover, and dreamt of being draped in more, hanging on the arm of the young Squire, Hetty now faces her trinket-free future with dismay.  The humble but real pleasures of a life connected with a close community now seem...

Carpet-covered dias

Part of the infrastructure of a village fête celebrating the coming of age of the young squire, from where patronising and inappropriate prizes are bestowed on the lower orders. '... leading Mrs Irwine to a carpet-covered dais ornamented with hot-house plants...'...

Brook-watered valleys

A lovely image.  Having spent childhood holidays among cousins in the countryside of Derbyshire, I remember days spent building stepping stones and bridges over the valley's brook, as well as picking some of the wild bluebells carpeting its slopes.  It's when I...

Pleasure-craving nature

Even in the depths of her despair, when she learns that her handsome squire won't marry her, her focus is as much on the loss of finery - or the dream of it - as of the loss of the lover. 'The shattering of her little dream-world, the crushing blow on her new-born...

Life-long joy

One of the curious things about Hetty is that George Eliot shows her no mercy, and inspires none in us.  Yet she is a limited being in everything except physical gorgeousness, and as a result, you wonder how much she can be held to account for her silliness and...

Keen-eyed man

A fine description of Adam Bede's fine eyes and keen mind.  As for Hetty, nowadays she'd be branded a teaser.  She has no interest in Adam and wouldn't dream of marrying him.  But she enjoys his attraction to her, and reels him back in whenever he looks like slipping...

Rose-coloured ribbon

This is the moment when Hetty shifts from recollection to projection, from dwelling upon random past encounters with the smooth-handed young Squire who has turned her empty head and won her frilly, silly heart, to projecting and even engineering future encounters....

Violet-scented breath

Nowadays it would be 'mint-scented'. This sinister image, in which fate beguiles with the beauty of an afternoon, is a chill hint of what is to come.  On such a day, with destiny so disguised, how could the protagonists (who don't have much nous between them), see...

Coal-scuttle bonnet

A perfect description of the late 18th century bonnet, likening it to a now defunct item.  Yet as a girl spending school holidays at our cousins' farm in Derbyshire, I remember my great aunt Lena going out to the coal-shed and scooping up scuttle loads of black rocks...

Well-seasoned meerschaum

This is part of a description of the village schoolroom where the sometimes compassionate, sometimes ascerbic schoolmaster Bartle Massey tries to knock some learning, or at least letters of the alphabet, into the dunderheads of artisans and labourers who dutifully...

Liver-coloured foal

One of the most unusual descriptions of a colour I have come across, and I also liked the gawkiness of the foal. '... and beside her the liver-coloured foal with its head towards its mother's flank, apparently still much embarrassed by its own straddling existence.'...

Evil-smelling element

This refers to 'brimstone', nick-name of the former brickmaker and some time poacher who 'got' religion with the arrival of Methodism.  He gave up thieving in lieu of which he studied the alphabet the better to soak up spiritual correction.  But he found reading...

Apple-cheeked children

It's an obvious one, but still a charming picture of innocence and health, apple-cheeked. 'I'm sure I never saw a prettier party than this,' Arthur said, looking round at the apple-cheeked children.' Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985...

Slow-striking clock

Mr Poyser is a kind farmer, and as he takes very seriously his duty to speak on behalf of the village at the coming of age of the young Squire, he is a little shy and ponderous, and has been fidgeting and fretting before the arrival of the Squire and his moment in the...

Fresh-opened blossoms and mounting larks

I like the playfulness of sharing the divine charms of a bright spring day, even while saying it's probably wasted on you. And of course, you have often forgotten yourself with straining your eyes after the mounting lark, haven't you?   I did, two days ago, on a walk...

Grim-looking gown

Marvelous scene this.  A village fête where prizes are doled out to the lower orders by their betters. Arthur, dashing young Squire in the making, at least has the sensitivity to ask Miss Lydia if she couldn't have provided a cheerier prize for the young Bessy.  She...

Flat-boughed cedar

A favourite tree - I remember the first one I consciously noticed, said to be 1,000 years old, some of its lowest flat boughs supported by poles themselves the diameter of some trees. But perhaps the most magnificent cedar I have seen is in a park in Geneva near the...

Melancholy-looking satellite

An intriguing triologism, part of an inventively astronomical metaphor to distinguish a man's head from his much larger body, so much larger as to render the head a mere 'satellite', as the moon is to the earth.   But a satellite which, at least, was not melancholy...

Gently-swelling meadow

George Eliot lived during the height of the Industrial Revolution, with several of her books being set earlier in its evolution. She gives hints and intimations of industrial smog and grind over the horizon, and the first tremors of social and economic seismic shifts....

Clear-eyed endurance

Something I admire in others but cannot pretend to have fully mastered, though am fortunate in not having been required to endure anything close to, let alone beyond, my circumscribed natural limits. Eliot isn't talking about physical pain, but her mention of opium...

Work-hardened hands

Tall, strong, upright, loving, jealous, kind, old and complex Lisbeth Bede, mother of Adam.  I enjoyed George Eliot's minute description of her. '... as she stands knitting rapidly and unconsciously with her work-hardened hands, she has as firmly-upright an attitude...

Smooth-tongued palaver

Lean in, says Sheryl Sandberg.  Stand up and never give in, says the farmer's wife Mrs. Poyser, even if your husband sits down to hear the slippery squire try and talk them into something that would do them no good. Mrs. Poyser, flourishing at the turn of the 19th...

Broad-leaved sycamores and weary-hearted women

George Eliot writes sensitively and movingly of the early manifestation of Methodism.  She wrote Adam Bede around 1850 but set the story some fifty years earlier, and she gives an insight into its development during that half-century (apparently not a particularly...

Finely-moulded cheek

The story hangs on the breathtaking physical beauty of Hetty, whereas Dinah is generally highlighted more in terms of her kindliness and wisdom.  Yet here is an early allusion to her also having a certain loveliness alongside her finely-moulded soul. '... for some of...

1 Comment

  1. B.G. Simons

    Interesting! Your triologisms remind me of the two-word kennings in Beowulf.

    Reply

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