Demystification Guru

Just because we don't understand something, doesn't mean it isn't understandable.

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

blythe spirit

July 24
I've been having spelling issues lately. I wanted a thorough definition for "blythe" as in "blythe spirits", the name I gave to dancers we saw on the weekend. Dictionary dot com spells it "blithe" which I think looks mean, not happy. So I thought maybe it was a British/US thing but apparently not, as Shelley's poem "To a Skylark", from which Noel Coward took his play title "Blithe Spirit", spells it "blithe".

When I was growing up, we had a cookie tin on which was printed the poem about what one is like if one is born on a certain day of the week. I read it so much that I had it memorized (too many cookies, perhaps). Some years after noticing it as a kid, it occurred to me to ask what day of the week I had been born on and Mum told me it was Sunday. Ever since then, I have been a little conceited about it.

(From Dictionary dot com:) blithe 
O.E. bliþe "joyous, kind," from P.Gmc. *blithiz "gentle, kind" (cf. O.S. bliði "bright, happy," O.N. bliðr "mild, gentle," O.H.G. blidi "gay, friendly," Goth. bleiþs "kind, friendly, merciful"). Rare since 16c. No cognates outside Gmc. "The earlier application was to the outward expression of kindly feeling, sympathy, affection to others, as in Gothic and ON.; but in OE. the word had come more usually to be applied to the external manifestation of one's own pleased or happy frame of mind, and hence even to the state itself." [OED]

The Poem

Monday's child is fair of face
Tuesday's child is full of grace
Wednesday's child is full of woe
Thursday's child has far to go
Friday's child is loving and giving
Saturday's child works hard for a living
But the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
is bonny, blythe, good and gay.

(I always thought it was a little tough on Wednesday's kid.)

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Blogger Michael Leddy said...

Julia, you'll be pleased to know that there's a recording by alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe called Blythe Spirit. It's a great record (I have the LP) that seems to be out of print: Blythe Spirit.

6:23 p.m., July 24, 2007  
Blogger JuliaR said...

Cool! I really think the look of a word is important. Take "pulchritude" for example. Before I learned what it meant, I thought it must mean "giant oozing garbage dump".

9:50 a.m., July 26, 2007  

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