Today’s word of the day, amort, means lifeless, spiritless, or depressed but you need to read Keats to get the full effect. Of John Keats’s use of amort, Harry Buxton Forman wrote, “The use of the old word amort is peculiarly happy: it is more expressive of deadened perception than any other single word, and is full of poetic associations.”
She danc’d along with vague, regardless eyes,
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
The hallow’d hour was near at hand: she sighs
Amid the timbrels, and the throng’d resort
Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
’Mid looks of love, defiance, hate and scorn,
Hoodwink’d with faery fancy; all amort,
Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.
—Part XIII of “Eve of St. Agnes” by John Keats
Today’s word of the day is terpsichorean. It means “relating to dancing” or “a dancer.” It comes from the name of Terpsichore, the Greek and Roman Muse of lyrical poetry, choral singing, and dancing.
Photo of Terpischore taken at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, by Andrew Bossi and used under a Creative Commons license.
Today’s word of the day is cremnophobia, morbid fear of being near the edge of a cliff, precipice, or abyss. Baudelaire, in the poem “Le Gouffre” (“The Abyss”), movingly described that fear (as noted by Max Nordau in Degeneration, 1895).
Here’s a translation of it from the blog “Thrice-Great” which attempted to translate Baudelaire’s poetry collection Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) in a year. Two more translations into English can be found at lesfleursdumal.org. If it’s named fears and not poetry you’re after, try this list of phobias.
Pascal avait son gouffre, avec lui se mouvant.
— Hélas! tout est abîme, — action, désir, rêve,
Parole! Et sur mon poil qui tout droit se relève
Mainte fois de la Peur je sens passer le vent.
En haut, en bas, partout, la profondeur, la grève,
Le silence, l’espace affreux et captivant…
Sur le fond de mes nuits Dieu de son doigt savant
Dessine un cauchemar multiforme et sans trêve.
J’ai peur du sommeil comme on a peur d’un grand trou,
Tout plein de vague horreur, menant on ne sait où;
Je ne vois qu’infini par toutes les fenêtres,
Et mon esprit, toujours du vertige hanté,
Jalouse du néant l’insensibilité.
— Ah! ne jamais sortir des Nombres et des Êtres!
Today’s word of the day is ultroneous, meaning “spontaneous” or “voluntary,” and described by William Ballantyne Hodgson as “not recognised by Johnson, and little needed by the English tongue.” It’s from the same Latin root ultro- as ultromotivity, capability of spontaneous movement. Eleanor Agnes Moore has a deliciously dreadful poem titled “Ultroneus” in her Poems of Endowment on The Realities of Life:
While the influence is morally, physically and refining,
Yet by softening and cheering expressions made,
Intellect may be developed and the power of thought strengthened.
When the part of ultroneous is retained to be used at times.
Eleanor Agnes Moore