Tuesday, 25 October 2011

On Nomenclature

All of a sudden, I have a niece.  After nine months discussion, the parents have decided to call her Molly Rose.  A beautiful name which is also a complete sentence.  Molly rose.  I was thinking a lot about the process of naming and made up (or possibly remembered) this riddle:

What is the only thing that has ever named itself?

Answers in the comments please.  A small prize may be awarded.

The only living thing I have ever had to name is my cactus 'Spike' (left beside a nameless wooden chicken).  I've named a few lifeless things: characters in stories, and poems and blogposts.I am particularly bad at naming poems. I used to have a tendency to be super tangential or a touch grandiose.  Examples from my earliest journal that is still extant include: "One point zero times ten to the power of three." (Actually quite a sweet ditty about unrequited love for a classmate.) Or (I kid you not) "Teenage rebellion, the great social rebellion and the establishment of the socialist church." I like to think I had the same concerns as any other 14 year old.

These days, of course, I frequently don't bother naming them at all.  But seeing as today's theme is nomenclature, I think I'll call this one "The Island and the City":

The Island and the City

The woman in the shadows 
Drags her childhood from the light,
Darkness masks the scars 
Of lovers parting out of sight.
Sunset on the city walls,
The island calls again.
Hampered by near blindness, 
Told to pause and count to ten.
The island or the city?
Choose the pavement or the beach.
The streetlights make the pebbles 
Seem much further out of reach.
Chained to smoke-free chimney stacks
And aching for a key,
She bends her ear to seashells, 
Hears the whispering of the sea.
Echoes from the decades past
Are drowning out the waves.
All her childhood fantasies
Of coracles and caves
Are fogged up by the city smog
And rumbling traffic noise.
Can't she hear that dream-whipped 
Lonely child's pleading voice
Crying in the darkness: 
"Give the island one more chance,
I lived and loved a lifetime 
Where you learned to play and dance.
Buccaneers and smugglers 
Beckon wreckers to the shore.
There's treasure to be found
And secret tunnels to explore!"
The city or the island? 
Choose the crowds or solitude.
But it's a false dichotomy 
Her judgement has been skewed
In favour of the city lights 
By habit death and debt.
The island lives in dreams 
And secret moments of regret.


  1. the human brain/psyche/voicebox/imagination

    right track? good riddle. I love a good riddle; something to think about on the toilet

  2. That poem really moved me. Admittedly I'm not sure about the title... I'm terrible at writing poetry but I think it's better if poems have the sort of titles that don't actually tell you too much about them... but this poem was lovely and all your poems have a really great rhythm.

  3. I think Nick may have the right of it. Good poem

  4. Best answer I have had so far was in the pub from Georgia. She thought for a long time and then burst out with:

    "It's a cuckoo!"

    But, yeah, Ross and Nick are on the right lines. I went with 'the language faculty of the human mind'.