Sunday, January 3, 2010


From the Emily Dickinson Lexicon:
The Emily Dickinson lexicon is a dictionary of the words in Emily Dickinson's collected poems… Noah Webster's 1844 American Dictionary of the English Language is… important… because Dickinson employed Webster's etymologies and definitions in composing her poems...

Lexical cohesion: words that are tied to each other by meaning or reference.

On Warren Street early that Sunday morning there on the sidewalk was a tiny paper Christmas bulb, and a step away, an even tinier snowflake. I stooped to pick them up. There was a pretty cellophane candy wrapper too, but it was Sunday, so I left it there. Postage for your card, and glue in the first drawer I pulled.
… Not surprisingly, "bending" is a synonymous gloss in the definition of stooping in Webster's [1844] dictionary; and concepts of bending forward, inclining, leaning, yielding, and submitting are shared by these Webster entries:

Stooping, ppr. Bending the body forward; yielding; submitting; condescending; inclining.

Stoop, vi. [Saxon stupian . . . ]
1. To bend the body downward and forward . . .
2. To bend or lean forward; to incline forward in standing or walking
3. To yield; to submit; to bend by compulsion
4. to descend from rank or dignity; to condescend
5. To yield; to be inferior.

Bend, v.i. To be crooked; to crook, or be curving.
2. To incline; to lean or turn
5. To bow or be submissive.
Even without a dictionary it seems clear that "stooping," "stooped," and "bend" are synonyms… What may not be so obvious is that Webster's etymology of the word love includes a primary sense of "leaning forward," so that to stoop, to bend, and to love are lexically cohesive…

Love, v.t. [Saxon lufian, luvian . . . See Lief. The sense is probably to be prompt, free, willing, from leaning, advancing or drawing forward.]

Paris, by Nerissa & Katryna Nields

And I dreamed last night
Of how the moonlight shone in your old room...

And every now and then there was a word I understood...
And I wrote it down and put it on a postcard
And sent it to you.

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