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Marissa Lingen

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Also [Jun. 10th, 2010|04:58 pm]
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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.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-10 10:07 pm (UTC)

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Kenning? Epithet? Hm, I think epithet may be right. Wow, my epic days are past. (Literally. My dissertation was on one.)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-10 10:11 pm (UTC)

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Anne-dude, you are still totally epic. [/death-metalhead voice]
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-10 10:12 pm (UTC)

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And kennings do something different, magically speaking. I find myself curiously reluctant to construct a kenning for myself, actually. Hmm.
[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-10 10:16 pm (UTC)

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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."
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2010-06-11 11:02 pm (UTC)

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It is in fact epithet, at least if one is talking about Homer, those being the only epics I am really familar with.

P.
[User Picture]From: truepenny
2010-06-10 10:15 pm (UTC)

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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 at 2010-06-10 10:15 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: txanne
2010-06-10 10:18 pm (UTC)

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This comment is off-topic, extraneous "we are all coming to Fourth Street!!!" squee.
[User Picture]From: zeborahnz
2010-06-11 12:24 am (UTC)

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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).



[User Picture]From: zalena
2010-06-10 10:23 pm (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 03:40 am (UTC)

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Finnish epic, actually.
[User Picture]From: papersky
2010-06-11 12:58 pm (UTC)

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Hexameter.
[User Picture]From: desperance
2010-06-10 10:41 pm (UTC)

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That's trochaic dimeter, that is...
[User Picture]From: cpolk
2010-06-10 10:43 pm (UTC)

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*runs away to look that up*
[User Picture]From: timprov
2010-06-11 03:53 am (UTC)

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The best kind of Demeter really. Winter, summer, winter, summer.
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2010-06-11 11:03 pm (UTC)

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*splort*

P.
[User Picture]From: cpolk
2010-06-10 10:42 pm (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 03:41 am (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: apis_mellifera
2010-06-11 12:31 am (UTC)

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That is one excellent super-power to have, to be able to think of oneself in epic verse.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 03:41 am (UTC)

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Actually I think it is merely an ordinary-power, coming from much practice rather than from the bite of a radioactive moose or something.
[User Picture]From: panjianlien
2010-06-11 12:42 am (UTC)

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Pixel-slaying Mrissahainen is a most excellent epithet and I will grin periodically now for days, imagining you declaiming your saga.
[User Picture]From: anniegee
2010-06-11 01:17 am (UTC)

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I think those thingers are called "Homeric epithets". At least when referring to Homeric epics-- ox-eyed Hera, rosy-fingered dawn, and the like.
[User Picture]From: houseboatonstyx
2010-06-11 08:04 am (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2010-06-11 02:27 am (UTC)

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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.)
[User Picture]From: alecaustin
2010-06-11 03:49 am (UTC)

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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.)
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 03:52 am (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: papersky
2010-06-11 01:01 pm (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 04:00 pm (UTC)

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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. (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.)
[User Picture]From: columbina
2010-06-11 03:57 pm (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 04:02 pm (UTC)

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"Does the king of the Watusis drive an automobile?"
[User Picture]From: columbina
2010-06-11 04:01 pm (UTC)

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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 cleolinda :

I get irrationally pissed off that they call it The Twilight "Saga." Needs moar Vikings before it can be the Sparklingasögur.
[User Picture]From: mrissa
2010-06-11 04:02 pm (UTC)

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A great many things need moar Vikings before they can be sagas.

But not the saga of my front door.
[User Picture]From: pameladean
2010-06-11 11:04 pm (UTC)

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Well, of course it helps. And I'm very glad, too.

P.
[User Picture]From: swan_tower
2010-06-11 11:23 pm (UTC)

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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.
[User Picture]From: shweta_narayan
2010-06-13 08:11 pm (UTC)

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<3 !
Now I need one of these in traditional sanskrit-poetry meter, so that I can get myself tea.
[User Picture]From: elisem
2010-06-16 01:46 am (UTC)

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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.