Three OED Poems

Recent posts on found poetry reminded me of several OED entries I  bookmarked out over the years because they gave me more than the usual pleasures of etymology, definition, and commonplace-book-like selection of previous uses. So I decided to work up a couple of these into poems. Other than acts of lineation, punctuation, elision, and a word inserted here or there, none of what’s below is mine. Each comes from one headword  entry in OED2 or OED3.

Three OED Poems


Serum, serus, soirée, serenade—‘tardive’:
A light fall of moisture or fine rain
after sunset, formerly regarded
as a noxious dew or mist, called serene.
‘A foggy mist or dampish vapour shall
from the moon’s moist influence fall’.


The calm abiding of the issue of time, processes, etc.;
Etc., etc. … the quiet and self-possessed waiting for something;
Longsuffering, longanimity under provocation. The quality of expecting long
without rage or discontent. Patience, hard thing! My patience! Patience! Have patience!

God grant me patience to endure.


Fantasma: illusion, unreality, vanity.
Vain imagination; delusion clothed in a vain
semblance of form. Something that appears
to sight or other sense,
but has no material substance.

Or, a material image of something,
a ‘ghost of his former self’, a cipher,
the visible representative dwindled to nothing.

Image which appears
in a dream, which is formed
or cherished in the mind;
also, anything that haunts
the imagination:
some incorporeal
body politic, a model
infant devised by way of pretence.

Phantom flesh, phantom pain,
phantom limb, phantom life,
phantom child, phantom tribe,
phantom nation, phantom land.


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