Jun. 10th, 2010 04:58 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa
Lifted from an e-mail I sent to a friend earlier today:

Confession time: much of the time I think of myself in the appropriate meter and as Mrissahainen. As in:

Then the mighty Mrissahainen
Pixel-slaying Mrissahainen
Mighty-sinewed chemist's daughter
Got up from the sucking sofa
Made herself the magic tisane
Made a pot of useful tisane
Useful tisane made from ginger
So she would not puke her guts out
Keep the lunch of Mrissahainen!

I cannot explain why this helps. But upon reflection I think I don't have to explain why this helps.

What I did not say in that e-mail, that I probably should have because my friend would also have gotten it, is that ever since I watched Desk Set lo these many years ago, I hear my bits of dog-Kalevala in Katharine Hepburn's voice from when she was doing Longfellow at top speed. Which I also find comforting.

I should specify further that the sofa sucks energy rather than being a generally sucky sofa in the colloquial sense of bad or nasty. It is a very fine sofa and I am fond of it.

And pixel-slaying Mrissahainen is one of my whatchems, you know, the thingers that they always call you while they're thinking up the thing to say in the next line. Wily Odysseus. Cognomen? That might not be quite it, because what I'm thinking of is like cognomen but for fitting in the line of poetry, and I don't know if there's a separate word for that.

Date: 2010-06-10 10:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Kenning? Epithet? Hm, I think epithet may be right. Wow, my epic days are past. (Literally. My dissertation was on one.)

Date: 2010-06-10 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Anne-dude, you are still totally epic. [/death-metalhead voice]

Date: 2010-06-10 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And kennings do something different, magically speaking. I find myself curiously reluctant to construct a kenning for myself, actually. Hmm.

Date: 2010-06-10 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, right. That's not really an issue in French epics. Yes, the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that it's "epithet."

Date: 2010-06-11 11:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is in fact epithet, at least if one is talking about Homer, those being the only epics I am really familar with.


Date: 2010-06-10 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes. I wanted a fancier word than "epithet" for rosy-fingered Aurora and ox-eyed Hera, but I think that's just me. A kenning is actually instead of a name, rather than in addition to (as I just discovered by looking it up with excessive help from Catzilla): "a figurative, usually compound expression used in place of a name or noun, especially in Old English and Old Norse poetry; for example, storm of swords is a kenning for battle."

[Edited to close the damn quotes already]
Edited Date: 2010-06-10 10:15 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-10 10:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This comment is off-topic, extraneous "we are all coming to Fourth Street!!!" squee.

Date: 2010-06-11 12:24 am (UTC)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeborah
What I really love is how you get kennings to refer to other kennings. ..."Love" in a vague abstract sort of sense, from a safe distance, y'know; kind of like how I love languages that have vowel harmony or eight cases, just so long as I don't have to learn them. Or Malagasy. Malagasy is awesome, you know how in English you've got "here" vs "there"? And Spanish has "aqui, alli, alla"? Malagasy has seven. You've got to love a language with seven words for the here/there scale. From a really safe distance, obviously.

But I digress. When one of my linguistics classes looked at this kind of placeholder in oral communication (epics, auctions, racehorse commentary, etc) we just called them formulae. But 'epithets' seems to be the more technical term in poetry (see a typically magpie-like Wikipedia article).

Date: 2010-06-10 10:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Excellent scansion. I only just noticed the meter in Longfellow to match that of the Norse epics. I don't have a good vocabulary for this, but I know it when I see it.

Thanks for the rhyme and I hope you feel better.

Date: 2010-06-11 03:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Finnish epic, actually.

Date: 2010-06-11 12:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2010-06-10 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's trochaic dimeter, that is...

Date: 2010-06-10 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*runs away to look that up*

Date: 2010-06-11 03:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The best kind of Demeter really. Winter, summer, winter, summer.

Date: 2010-06-11 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]


Date: 2010-06-10 10:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
the rhythm of that is SO familiar--oh headslap, because I've read many parts of the Kalevala once.

maybe i should read it again.

Date: 2010-06-11 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes, Mrissahainen is meant to be directly parallel to Ilmarainen the smith, because there was no way I could make my name go like Louhi, and anyway my teeth have generally been fine.

Date: 2010-06-11 12:31 am (UTC)
ext_26933: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
That is one excellent super-power to have, to be able to think of oneself in epic verse.

Date: 2010-06-11 03:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Actually I think it is merely an ordinary-power, coming from much practice rather than from the bite of a radioactive moose or something.

Date: 2010-06-11 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Pixel-slaying Mrissahainen is a most excellent epithet and I will grin periodically now for days, imagining you declaiming your saga.

Date: 2010-06-11 01:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think those thingers are called "Homeric epithets". At least when referring to Homeric epics-- ox-eyed Hera, rosy-fingered dawn, and the like.

Date: 2010-06-11 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Too lazy to look it up, but I think of 'epithet' as being about some person or personalizable or at least rosy-fingerable thing. Was that the only kind of filler that epic poetry used?

If there's another word for it, I bet it's near the beginning of Lewis's INTRODUCTION TO PARADISE LOST.

Date: 2010-06-11 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It is always good to make your own set of you-approved epithets. You never know when people are going to try to write doggerel about you, and then you can just give them the list. (I am speaking from experience, here.)

Date: 2010-06-11 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Definitely an epithet (as so many others have pointed out).

I like 'Mighty-sinewed chemist's daughter' myself, though I suspect that's not a kenning because it's, y'know. A description, not a euphemism. (Also everything from 'useful tisane made from ginger' on is brilliant.)

Date: 2010-06-11 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mighty-sinewed chemist's daughter likes you, too, dear heart.

Oh, wait, you used quotation marks appropriately there. Oops.

But you're entirely correct, it is not a kenning.

Date: 2010-06-11 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think everybody does this, in various metres, from time to time.

I have always been glad to have a name that rhymes so well, with so many things.

Date: 2010-06-11 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whereas mine only rhymes well with math things, mantissa and abscissa and like that. Which means that people are only permitted to write poetry with my actual name in it if it's extremely formal math poetry that's half geometry proof. ([ profile] markgritter once wrote me a poem that was valid code that would compile. It wouldn't do anything much, but it was valid code and would compile. Reader, I etc.)

Date: 2010-06-11 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Tangentially, you have just pushed me to watch Desk Set again (which I own for exactly this exigency). Mind you, the pressure has been slowly building for days. Just the other day (in conjunction with a phone interview) I heard Hepburn's voice in my head saying, "During the war you did something so secret even I couldn't find it out," and "That's all I was able to find out, but I only had half an hour."

You know who else lives on the Mexican Avenue bus? Our Mr. Sumner.

Yup, time to go watch that. Definitely.

Date: 2010-06-11 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Does the king of the Watusis drive an automobile?"

Date: 2010-06-11 04:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Not even tangentially, but because I think you should see it and I can't fire up email right now and it's sorta-semi-germane to this conversation, a comment on Twitter from [ profile] cleolinda:

I get irrationally pissed off that they call it The Twilight "Saga." Needs moar Vikings before it can be the Sparklingasögur.

Date: 2010-06-11 04:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A great many things need moar Vikings before they can be sagas.

But not the saga of my front door.

Date: 2010-06-11 11:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, of course it helps. And I'm very glad, too.


Date: 2010-06-11 11:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You might have been aiming for the word agnomen, which is what Romans called nicknames. But yes, in this case you probably mean "epithet," or "formula" if you're hitting it from the standpoint of oral-formulaic theory, which (among other things) is about plugging in units like that while your brain composes the next line of the poem.

Date: 2010-06-13 08:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
<3 !
Now I need one of these in traditional sanskrit-poetry meter, so that I can get myself tea.

Date: 2010-06-16 01:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Me, I would call it a use-name. But that probably translates into something that might sound more impressive, if only I knew what to translate it into.

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