Chapter & Verse

A correspondence corner for not-so-famous lost words

Arnold Schwab asks if someone can identify "Fougère," a reference in an 1895 review of The Importance of Being Earnest in which Cecily is described as "an ingenue who could give Fougère points."

 

Judith Stix seeks the origin of two phrases quoted by W.B. Yeats in notes to his poem "Mongan Laments the Change That Has Come upon Him and His Beloved": "the desire of man 'which is for the woman,' and 'the desire of the woman which is for the desire of the man'...."

 

Reed Benet would like a source for: "On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of countless millions, who, at the dawn of victory, laid down to rest — and resting, died."

 

James Gilbert hopes to locate a poem about the Nativity in which, he paraphrases, the innkeeper shouts that "some woman just had a baby in the stable."

 

"Dry clashed his harness" (March-April). Erik Gray led in identifying this reference from Alfred Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur (line 186). The passage reappears in the later The Passing of Arthur (line 354), from Idylls of the King.

 

"beauty in the gentle breeze" (March-April). Don Share was first to identify the query as a misquotation of the opening line of Wordworth's The Prelude: "Oh there is blessing in this gentle breeze."

 

"American pilot" (March-April). Edward Tabor first identified "England to America," by Margaret Prescott Montague. Published in the September 1918 Atlantic Monthly, it won the 1919 O. Henry Award.

 

"Where the snowflakes fall thickest" (March-April). William Hungate was first to identify "The Boys," written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, A.B. 1829, M.D. 1836, for his thirtieth College reunion. Raymond Reister found both this poem and the story cited above in his old high-school English textbook, Adventures in American Literature (revised edition, 1944).

"confused" (March-April). Winifred Maher suggested as a possibility Enrico Fermi's statement "Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level" — reprinted in Rob Kaplan's Science Says (2001), which cited Alan L. Mackay's A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1991).

 

"polished my good shoes" (March-April). James Harvey and Kit Wallingford were the first of more than 50 readers to recognize "Those Winter Sundays," from Angle of Ascent (1962), by Robert Hayden, this country's first African-American poet laureate. Jay Banks noted that the poem — which ends, "What did I know, what did I know/of love's austere and lonely offices?" — is number 266 in William Harmon's 1992 compilation of the most anthologized poetry in English, The Top 500 Poems.

 

Send inquiries and answers to "Chapter and Verse," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138.              

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