Thursday, December 15, 2011

noigandres again

This exchange about a word-mystery, between the American poet Ezra Pound and the language scholar (Doctor) Emil Levy, took place in 1911 in Freiburg:

. . . Doctor, what do they mean by noigrandres?
And he said: "Noigandres! NOIgandres!
You know for seex mon's of my life
Effery night when I go to bett, I say to myself:
Noigandres, eh, noigandres,
Now what the DEFFIL can that mean!"

Emil Levy did solve the word-mystery:  noigandres  means to protect from, to ward off ennui.  And so a lovely line of poetry/song from the Provencal--a language of the medeival troubadours--can now be understood:

E jois lo grans, e l'olors d'enoi gandres
And joy is its seed, and its smell banishes sadness

The provencal poet is conjuring a flower, after he has heard "birdsong that whirls and turns" ("sona e tint e tart").  (All this word-talk can be found in Hugh Kenner's book on Pound in a chapter called The Invention of Language.)

It is a lovely notion, yes, a word appearing again that brings a new way for us to banish sadness.

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