Triologisms

Further lively imagery in concentrated capsules.  Having coined the term ‘triologism’, I am proud to be the sole global platform for these boundlessly varied phrases.  Just run your eye and mind over them and see how many ideas they yield.

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Whiz-kid’s attic

I love this image of a tech-clever kid's attic. Could be computers, train sets, microscopes, anything. May every whiz-kid have an attic full of wires and switches, though preferably minus the explosives.  A shed will do nicely too. ‘From the outside, the Concorde is...

Stunt-hoop tambourines

The timbre and beat of martial music as the Greek states gather behind Agamemnon for an almighty war.   ‘Immediately Wide-ruling Agamemnon’s voices called Greece to its feet, and set it on the move. And as they moved, To stunt-hoop tambourines and trumpet drums…’...

Clear-voiced heralds

Logue’s vivid rendition of several episodes in the Iliad pulsates with fresh phrasing and is a trove of triologisms. Here, the Greeks are summoned to war. ‘No more talk. The King will arm. You lords will join the host, Answering our clear-voiced heralds as they call –...

Tassel-ankled feet

As the Greeks gather for war, the goddess Athena rallies them.   ‘The Daughter Prince, ash-eyed Athena, flew Her father’s awning, called the Aegis, blue, Broad as an upright sky, a second sky Over their shoulders rippling estuary, And turned the pad Of...

Three-tailed bashaw

In this story, the stepmother isn’t wicked, she’s just stupid and pretentious. And calculating. She has a daughter and a step-daughter and is constantly working out who would be the best (financial and social) match for the two eligible young women. At this point,...

Eagerly-tended refreshments

You can see the gushing, fawning manner of shopkeepers keen to please the Chief Procurement Officers of the nearby grand home. ‘The housekeeper and steward from the Towers might also be seen coming in to give orders at the various shops; and stopping here and there at...

Kind-hearted termagant

Great word ‘termagant’, sadly underused and, referring as it does to bad-tempered women, no doubt politically unacceptable. Here it describes Betty, the servant of the Gibson household.  I like the juxtaposition of 'termagant', with all the sour-temper that implies,...

Blossom-carpeted meadows

Flowers are key to this slim, barely known book.  I found a second-hand copy with lovely black and white illustrations, and enjoyed the simple tale of a poor boy in Italy whose donkey is ill.  He’s told if he can get her into the church, a miracle will happen.  But...

Wind-slabbed snow

Crunching home through snow after a winter walk, we found ourselves on such wind-slabs, albeit more modest in scale, Swiss not Arctic. They held your weight up to a point, though you could suddenly find your foot sink into a slab, and the slabs had fissures between...

Flea-bitten hermits

'On the island of Sevan, which is conspicuous for two most dignified architectural monuments that date back to the seventh century, as well as for the mud huts of flea-bitten hermits only recently passed away...' Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London:...

Water-polished shells

Lopez uses this to describe the bright whiteness of snow geese in flight. ‘Once airborne, they are dazzling on the wing. Flying against broken sunlight, the opaque whiteness of their bodies, a whiteness of water- polished shells, contrasts with grayer whites in their...

Taupe-coloured muzzle

Taupe is a browny-grey, though I see it as having a tinge of mauve, like the fur of the mole. This is the muzzle of the gentle donkey who is Pepino’s only solace and support until she falls ill.  The story turns on his efforts to have her cured by entering the church,...

Soft-eyed cattle

If you have ever stopped to commune with cows in a field, you’ll have noted their softness of their gaze, big-eyed pools of curiosity. If you have never stopped to commune with cows, please consider doing so. It's worth it. ‘He saw again the snow-capped mountains of...

Rain-washed sky

There’s a clarity and endlessness to a sky that’s been cleansed by rain.  And ‘bruised by the light’, what a phrase! ‘Spinning between the towns one is constantly bruised by the light, as though everything had been torn from a rain-washed sky.’ Source: Laurie Lee, I...

Sun-festering lilies

A heady perfume and saffron orange pollen comes to mind. ‘There were smells in the air of wine and pine, scorched leaves and sun-festering lilies. For a long, slow instant this minor Babylon hung up gardens of seven wonders.’ Source: Laurie Lee, I Can’t Stay Long...

Clay-furrowed faces

This conveys the inscribed grime and time of years of oppressively hard labour. I noticed recently that recurrent harsh weather can also wear people out, stripping away their bloom. ‘I particularly remember one of his (Van Gogh’s) earliest studies, that of a family of...

Cloth-capped gents

Having just spent a few days in the north of England, I can see them, the cloth-capped gents, in a black-and-white grainy-photograph long gone world.  They often give the camera a piercing gaze. ‘Cloth-capped gents in the plane were reading the racing pages...

Wind-washed air

Elsewhere I have commented on a 'rain-washed sky', and here, wind-washed air, both yielding clarity. ‘The wealth of biological detail on the tundra dispels any feeling that the land is empty; and its likeness to a stage suggests impending events. On a summer walk, the...

Cool-scrubbed tavern

And where else to flee from the sun that makes lilies fester, than a cool-scrubbed tavern?  I imagine a bright but cool white-wash combined with hyacinth blue paintwork that you see in traditional Greek buildings, though here the heat is in Madrid. ‘About noon (or at...

Glassy-blue shoreline

Glassy blue suggests bright blue eyes, and you can imagine the sea washing up azurely. ‘The islands are spread over a vast warm sea, but the air makes them stepping-stones. Bottled within them, behind their glassy-blue shores, you will find an eccentric brew...

Pink of old roses

Musty pink makes me think of an old breed of faded rose, or a soft-worn damask, or one of the thatched houses I saw in a village near Liverpool earlier this week. Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p....

New-peeled light

Like a fresh, dazzling morning after a long night, a new lease of life, an awakening … I like this use of light to describe time, in an eternal present tense. ‘Well mine would be a First Day Paradise, for a very solid reason. In it one would have no past, nor future,...

Raspberry-grey boulevards

Trying to imagine a raspberry-grey boulevard, and can only think of the grey of the road itself combined with a pink wash from a shaft of setting sun. Other colour related triologisms to follow. 'Pissarro's raspberry-grey boulevards, flowing like the wheels of an...

Tin-blue haze

Tin-blue – I’d be hard-pressed to describe this, a kind of dark-grey-blue with some mauve in it? 'In the bay there were barques and banana boats, sloops and cutters and dugout canoes, all riding at ease in a tin-blue haze under the shadow of a great Cunarder.' Source:...

Grape-blue landscape

A darkly overcast day with louring purple-stained clouds, and a storm brewing, until you read the context in which Lee coined this one. ‘This is an old stretch of land whose signs of occupation go back to the beginnings of man, with rich-painted caves scattered...

Variations on a theme of chaos and confusion

Luan, which can signify a rich spectrum of chaos, confusion, mess and hubbub, is wonderfully combined with several double characters. The main one featured is luanfenfen, meaning ‘disorderly, confused, chaotic, tumultuous’.   By extension, we have luanhonghong: in an...

Dark and sparkling

Wu means ‘black’ or ‘dark’ and, not surprisingly, also refers to a crow, as well as being a surname. Combined with liuliu it describes eyes which are dark and sparkling. The dots you see in liuliu refer to water, suggesting these sparkling eyes are like dark...

Full of yourself

Mei means ‘beautiful’ or ‘pretty’ and combined with zizi (zer-zer) it means to be very pleased with yourself, zi meaning ‘more’ or ‘grow, multiply’.

With a laugh

Xiao is the character for laughter, smiles and jokes.  Here it’s combined with the haha sound of laughter to mean ‘laughingly, with a laugh’. When I was a child we used to read a Hong Kong Chinese cartoon strip about a character called Lo Footsie (that’s how it...

Plump and pudgy

Pang is the word for ‘fat’, and combined with huhu it means ‘chubby’, ‘plump’ or ‘pudgy’.  It would be a good translation of a character's name such as Billy Bunter.

Brave and courageous

Xiong means ‘male’, ‘grand’, or 'having great power or influence', and is used in the word for ‘hero’.   Here, combined with jiujiu it means valiantly, gallantly, bravely.

Shell-like tenderness

A delicate and curious way to describe ‘tenderness’, since shells are usually formed of hard material, but their shape can be like a cupped hand, suggesting a protective curling-around. Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011),...

Thick-walled word

While I like this idea, I can’t quite imagine a ‘thick-walled’ word.  Trying some free association: Glop?  Blather?  Is it to do with sound or meaning?  Send me your suggestions. Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p....

Take a twenty-verst stroll

A verst is an old Russian measurement for distance, a few steps more than a kilometre.  So I wish you the time, leisure and energy to enjoy some twenty-verst strolls.  I will make it a new year’s resolution to get myself into enough shape to be able to stroll that far...

Waist-high grass

This conjurs a sweeping landscape of a breeze pouring over an endless prairie of grass.   Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 63

Thick-fingered roads

A chunky junction?  Wide roads converging on a roundabout, an original description of a transport node.   Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 49

White-toothed commissars

Perhaps alluding to a world in which commissars, having some status in the pecking order, probably had a better chance of good dental care, or any dental care. Source: Osip Mandelstam, Journey to Armenia (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2011), p. 52

Light-poor desert

Elsewhere I have highlighted Lopez’s use of desert images in an Arctic context. Here it’s used to refer to a light-starved winter.  He mentions that lack of light is the limiting factor on the growth of many species, far more than temperature. ‘Of the roughly 3200...

Red-tinged snow

No, not blood-stained, but a kind of lichen bringing the red of Snow White’s ruby mouth to the snow. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 7

Time as a hovering hawk

I am fascinated by perspectives of time, and here it’s memorably described as a rough-legged hawk, or, when it implodes, a bird keeled over in death. ‘Time still hovers above the tundra like the rough-legged hawk, or collapses altogether like a bird keeled over with a...

Storm-hardened shore

You can imagine the northern coasts of America and Canada, rock or ice, pounded by centuries of winter wind and wave. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 310

Sun-bleached ribbons

Lopez’ book provides, among other things, a history of the exploration (and exploitation) of the Arctic, and what a ship returning packed with whale bone and blubber meant in economic and material terms. It is astounding now to think of walking English streets in the...

Sun-cured grasses

Somehow this evokes an image of a boundless prairie full of grazing bison. I learned from Lopez that the vast numbers of these and other animals the Europeans found when they arrived were in fact a diminished version of even greater numbers in a more distant past....

Dove-colored sky

I imagine a soft-white snow-plump cloud cover, just before it shakes out its feather-flake down. Obsessed with sky, I will one day make you a quilt of sky-related triologisms. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 414

Frost-riven rubble

Rubble bespeaks a building site in a busy, messy, or war-torn city. The idea of its being splintered by frost transports you to an unfamiliar and barren context. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 299

High-tempered light

Something bright and uplifting about this light, as long as you have protection from its blinding effects. And what a wonderful metaphor for clarity – ‘air as clear as gin’! ‘The distant landscapes of Bylot and Baffin islands at Pond’s Bay were etched brilliantly...

Ice-choked rivers

A European would normally use ‘choked’ to describe a river full of algae or weeds or pollution. ‘Ice-choked’ gives a sense of a menacing jostling and mobbing of unready hulls, crushing them like a waif lost in a stampede. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p....

Jade-green vegetation

An image of verdancy that doesn’t quite chime with our impressions of endless Arctic white and blue. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 172

Light-drowned tundra

Light in the Arctic seems to move between extremes of deprivation and dazzlement. Elsewhere Lopez talks about a ‘light-poor desert’, contrasting with this ‘light-drowned tundra’. He also describes how early explorers, starved of light all winter, went dizzy with it...

Accordian-like adjustment

An obvious though unusual and simple metaphor for a flexible adaptation to things. Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 213

Blue-black vault

Lopez uses vivid and spare language to describe the equally spare beauty of the Arctic.  I liked this image. ‘Blue-black vault of the winter sky, a cold beauty alive with scintillating stars.’ Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. xxviii

Dark-horned skulls

This study of the Arctic encompasses an ice core deep drill through time – the coldness of the region preserving death and forsaken objects for longer periods.  So here you have a juxtaposition of contemporary muskoxen grazing alongside the remnants of their...

Deep-keeled ice

An arresting image of ice grounding like a boat’s hull scraping a shallow sea-floor. ‘… the sound of deep-keeled ice grounding in shallow water.’ Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 138

Desert-colored shores

I liked this equatorial image transported to the Arctic to describe northern shores. ‘Desert-colored shores were never touched by Pleistocene glaciers.’ Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 43

Dish-shaped paws

Lopez writes of the animals he encounters in the Arctic with great respect and sensitivity, quietly questioning the distances of skill and capability we often assume separate us from them, particularly in terms of the extent to which they are merely instinct driven,...

Modern weapons meet ancient war

Logue regularly brings modern imagery into an account of ancient war. The Trojan war was a Bronze Age fight, yet here you have sleekly clinical and contemporary metallurgy.  Chrome: gleaming hub caps, beautiful bicycle handles, and now deadly weaponry. ‘Fierce chrome,...

Ugly birds and beautiful plumes

An odd image this.  Gleaming helmets topped with bobbing plumes of beautiful birds can create mirages of battlefield glamour, building the height and perceived power of the warrior.  But vultures feed off dead bodies and have a hungry, predatory look to them.  You...

Troy the spoiler

Agamemnon appealing to God with a sour grape Greek’s spitting contempt for the Trojans, like a school yard bully’s name-calling assault on another child. Here implying the Trojans are treacherous in first calling truces and then breaking them. How little some things...

That’s no way to speak to God

Here we have Helen’s cuckolded husband Menalaus screaming at God in the most colourful terms.  I like the idea of those lazy gods hanging out in heaven with too much time on their hands and being therefore sworn at as ‘time-free trash’.  Or is it just that, being...

A tongue twister triologism

I liked this punchy, tongue-twisting image of remote and mountainous Macedon.   ‘He will get home.  That is to say, regain his ilex-napped Snowcragbackfastnesses of Macedon.’   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music: An account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of...

Battle wounds and war glory

One of the many striking things about the Iliad is its capacity to convey the warrior’s glory without shying away from the obscenity of carnage and the apparent enjoyment of it by many of the so-called heroes. This horrific image of gaping wounds is all the more awful...

Ribbons blue

There are many fine details in this lovely book, and the young girl finds signals of invisible hands arranging thoughtful, apt surprises. Her curiosity leads her to uncover who is behind them. And ‘delphinium-blue’, a lovely hue, redolent of a cottage garden or the...

Moonacre Manor

This white horse flits in and out of the eponymous story: like the moon, illuminating when visible, but otherwise elusive.  The moon is a recurring element in this magical tale – with the heroine, Maria Merryweather, being nominated as the latest in a long line of...

Briars and birds

Trying to think what species of birds would yield a rainbow of wings, in England.  Robins, blue-tits and finches, perhaps. ‘But when she looked again there was nothing to be seen except the tangled briars and all the lovely little birds with their rainbow-coloured...

Tangled tales

The rose garden of Moonacre has an arbour and heart-shaped rose-beds.  And if that sounds a little over top, wait till you get to the geraniums: wall to wall pink, though this divides two of the main female characters as one of them loathes pink as much as the other...

Marmaduke’s realm

The kitchen is the domain of Marmaduke Scarlet, together with the stone-vaulted larder where he stashes his culinary supplies.  This is a dream kitchen perfect for tea and toast on a winter’s day.  However, not a place to hang out if you’re watching your figure. And...

Wind-twisted pines

This reminds me of hardy, gnarled little trees seen on wind-blasted hilltops in England, shaped by and leaning with the prevailing gusts.   And here’s a forgotten word: ‘tussock’. ‘The beeches and oak-trees and bushes of golden gorse giving place to solitary groups of...

Weaving and grieving

I like hints of how things functioned in ancient mechanics; what were the loom warps weighted with?  A quiet ‘atelier’ away from the dust and sweat of the battle ground; gossip and resentment at the cause of the war, as the women work at their weaving.   ‘Troy. ...

Beware the plate-faced warrior

Something about this image that suggests implacable, closed, helmeted.   ‘Then through that colonnade, Hector of Troy, Towards his mass of plate-faced warriors…’   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music: An account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer’s Iliad,...

Grey-eyed Athena

Much is made of Athena’s beautiful eyes; elsewhere they have a ‘prussic glare’ and are ‘wide-apart’.  Remember, Athena is the one for whom time stops when she arrives, and starts again when she leaves.   ‘The Daughter Prince, ash-eyed Athena, flew Her father’s...

Thigh-thick python

A terrifying image, both the ‘slug-white’ and the thigh-thickness of this enormous python.  It curls up into the tree and ‘schloops’ up a nest of sparrows, fledglings and all, tainting the propitiation of the gods going on below.   ‘A slug-white, thigh-thick...

Hard-hearted Hera

Hera is Goddess Numero Una, but for all her beauty and creaminess, she is, as Virgil has it, full of ‘unrelenting hate’.  And here she comes mincing in with amazing Athena, what a pair of bobby-dazzlers these two, a cascade of sartorial glory and triologisms.  ...

Gleaming bronze

So, how did they clean their bronze shields and helmets?  I like this impression of gleaming bronze scoured with lime. ‘And all their world is bronze…’ evokes this Bronze Age epic.   ‘And all their world is bronze; White bronze, lime-scoured bronze, glass bronze,...

Sunset-lit Acropolis

If you have stood on the Acropolis in the gentle blue-pink of evening and soaked your eyes in its softening lambency, this will transport you back there.  If you haven't, perhaps add it to your life's To Do.   The Temple on the sunset-lit Acropolis…. Source:...

Time-free flight

Like his daughter Athena, time stops where he’s concerned.  Time-free flight – perhaps one day we will master that too, taking off vertically from Paris, hovering in the heavens for a few hours until New York catches up and we gently descend a spiral staircase of...

Tar-dark hair

A surprising rendition of blackness, until you think of pitch-black.  And here is Zeus again having to balance the requests of lesser gods with his own wishes and the insistent demands of hate-filled Hera.   Over His suppliant’s tar-dark hair He sees the...

Lake-eyed queen

Beautiful description of the limpid, seductive eyes of the gorgeous-ghastly goddess Hera, wife of God, with whom she tussles and wheedles to be able to destroy whom she hates most, and she seems to hate pretty much everybody.  Occasionally he lets himself be drawn...

Sisal-ball head

Thersites is a stirrer and a loudmouth, insinuating here, undermining there.  Toxic team-wrecker, until Odysseus speech-swats him like a bothersome fly.   And all the other gash that tumbles out Of his sisal-ball head.   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music,...

Crab-angled legs

Imperfect Hephaestus, ‘Vulcan’ to the Romans, blacksmith of the gods and semi-gods – Achilles’ incomparable armour is Hephaestus forged.   Him pincer-handed with crab-angled legs.   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music, London: Faber and Faber, 2001, p....

Seal-coloured sea

How many colours to describe the sea?  I have never come across seal-coloured – a sleek, deep grey-taupe. But search among my triologisms and you will find many moods and hues of the sea. This one comes as part of a marvelous build up to the appearance of a goddess,...

High-browed pounders

Crashing, sonorous waves drowning that wonderfully rustling sound of ‘skittish shingle’, pebbles and shells dashing up and down the beach to the pull and push of the water.   And so the priest Prayed while he walked towards his ship Beside the ocean’s high-browed...

Cloud-shadowing mountains

What a landscape to overcome if you want to reach Pythia – mountains shadowed by clouds and deep sea troughs.   Cloud-shadowing mountains and abyssal seas Separate them from Pythia.   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music, London: Faber and Faber, 2001, p....

Handsome-bodied warriors

Ah, it all boils down to wounded pride and vexation over the loss of a woman.  Achilles withdraws from the war because his king pulled rank and took his lady-loot, Briseis.  Later in Logue’s pithy wording, Achilles is described by one of his peers as Wondersulk. These...

World-class Achilles

World-class Achilles – as a warrior yes, but as a man, there are other Homeric heroes more admirable, though most of them have major character flaws veining their splendour. ‘Here is the news. Before world-class Achilles sails ... Source: Christopher Logue, War Music,...

Wide-apart eyes

Athena is for me the most memorable goddess, apart from the supreme and supremely bad-tempered Hera.  I love the ‘prussic glare’ pulling on Prussian Blue to signify her piercing cornflower eyes, and the fact that when she enters, she stops time, and lines later, when...

Tender-coloured sky

Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian novelist and a friend of Charlotte Bronte, whose biography she wrote. I see her as being somewhere between Jane Austen, particularly in Wives and Daughters, and George Eliot. In North and South, she paints a vivid, contemporary...

Lead-coloured cloud

This ‘lead-covered’ cloud symbolises the mood of the family as they approach the ‘grim North’, and soon they smell the smoke and see the pollution emanating from the industrialized town of Milton.  The cloud turns out to be man-made rather than climatic. ‘For several...

Many-windowed factory

The Hale family’s first sight of their new home is grim and constrained, comprising small, brick houses dotted among ‘many-windowed factories’, a new sight at the time. ‘Quickly they were whirled over long, straight, hopeless streets of regularly-built houses, all...

Sea-stained letters

A source of sorrow to the Hale family is the injustice inflicted on their son and brother, Frederick. Wanted for trial by the Royal Navy after leading a mutiny against a murderous captain, he is in exile in Spain and can only return to England incognito. This...

Stone-coped house

This is the first visit Margaret makes to a contact given the Hale family by a friend of her father’s.  It turns out that the Thorntons are key to the industrial development of Milton, and Margaret is surprised that their house is so close to the factory that...

Fresh-gathered roses

This is a bright spot in a serious story, a guest room scented by roses crushed into water to release their fragrance. Wishing you musk-rose scented rooms… “It’s only this very morning I plunged some fresh-gathered roses head downward in the water-jug; for, thought I,...

Mercury as maestro

I love this depiction of Mercury as a gold-baton waving maestro easing our passage. May he play you a world-embracing symphony.   And you the conductor of spirits Lead souls to their rest, gold-batoned maestro, Ease our passage from higher to lower.  ...

Horace’s idyll

Horace wrote the original script of all our Tuscan dreams of sun-opened flowers and hilltop villas. ‘O you who rejoice in unpolluted springs, weave sun-opened flowers into a crown for my friend Lamia, weave them, my sweet Pimpleis; without you nothing I make has any...

Be careful what you promise

This precedes an account in which the remote gods called ‘grown ups’ casually promise a trip to the circus which they then ignore when something more to their taste comes along, a garden party, where one can wear one’s mauve gown.  And worse, having let the children’s...

The stuff of wine

Harry Eyres is a poet and a vintner, and his book on Horace is a delight that will be reviewed here shortly. I write this as we watch our own sun-swollen berries ripen on the vine, the birds poised to dive in the minute they reach peak succulence. 'Ancient man saw...

Mind the (heart-shaped) gap

Ah, heart-shaped gaps! How many people walk around with these, whether in their personal, professional, cultural or spiritual life? May you have abundance in all things that fill them and fulfill you. ‘The only thing that could fill this heart-shaped gap was art – in...

These Italian hills…

Though I’d jig a hornpipe if I saw one, I love this vivid viper of glass-green, and can imagine cooling oneself after a picnic by stepping on a smooth-stoned riverbed.   You make quick changes, furry Faunus, God of woods and fields, quit Arcady And come to these...

Footprints in the snow

Not that I think the world is drab-coloured, but this does evoke the magical moment of waking up to snow (assuming your life doesn’t depend on getting through it with ease), particularly if you have been through a few months of drab-coloured, snowless winter....

Reptile-haunted rocks

This reminds me of the French word for basking in the sun, based on the word for a lizard: se lézarder. Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. xii

Rock-piled roof

Another structure you would hope could keep the Grendel gremlins out, ideally providing a 'dry-stone vault' underneath. Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. 86 and xviii

Sunshine after rain

A bright evocation of the sunshine after rain and the sense of astonishing renewal that comes with it. I like the ‘bespanglement of greenery’ too, lushly watered. ‘In the glorious reaction of the sunshine after the downpour, with its moist warm smells, bespanglement...

Horn-pronged gables

This reminds me of some of the pointed and upturning gables and eaves in traditional Chinese and south-east Asian architecture. Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. xii

Grape-gorged carronade

A vivid evocation of boyhood heroic fantasies.  When the young boy is told off or otherwise put down by the grown ups, he often restores his faith in life by imagining outrageous victories, naval and otherwise, and dreaming of ridding the world of pirates and other...

Iron-braced door

A door to keep enemies at bay?  Except perhaps Grendel who would have torn it off by the hinges. Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), p. 24

String-thin paths

A knife-edge precarity in this phrase.  May your paths be broad and sure! Source: Beowulf, Kevin Crossley-Holland, illus. by Charles Keeping (Oxford University Press, 2013 (1982)), p. 26

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