Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Meaning: lily of the valley. Dr Johnson's effort: "a flower".

Usefulness: 3 (They don't like heat much, so I haven't seen many of them down under. Would be a good name for a fairy, and could be useful if you were writing Romantic or Marian poetry.)

Logofascination: 1 (It's just such a beautiful word: liriconfancy. The OED suggests that its a corruption of the Latin lilium convallium.)

In the wild: Mentioned in an obscure poem (we like obscurity, here at SDOSTU) called Love's Martyr by Robert Chester. It was published with a poem by Shakespeare, and no-one knows what it's actually about. (Insert modern poetry joke here.) This verse is in a section about plants - I'm particularly fond of the use of lentils for rhyming purposes:
There MugwortSena and Tithimailes,
Oke of Ierufalem, and Lyryconfaucie,
Larkes fpurreLarkes claw and Lentiles,
Garden NigellaMill, and Pionie,
Woody NightshadeMints, and Sentorie,
SowbreadDragons, and Goates oregan
Pelemeum, Hellebore, and Ofmond the Waterman.
Degrees: 2

Connections: liriconfancy - lily

Which is used in: G&P, Book the First (Gargantua), X: Of that which is signified by the colours white and blue. Rabelais is arguing about the significance of the colours white and blue, which are Gargantua's livery, and concludes by saying:
This is the cause why Galli or Gallices (so are the Frenchmen called, because they are naturally white as milk, which the Greeks call Gala,) do willingly wear in their caps white feathers, for by nature they are of a candid disposition, merry, kind, gracious, and well-beloved, and for their cognizance and arms have the whitest flower of any, the Flower de luce or Lily.
It obviously wasn't until much later that the white feather became a symbol of cowardice. 

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