Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody.

Well, when I finished the Philoctetes (a very underrated and curious play) tonight, with the eponymous character’s beautiful soliloquy in the final scene, in which he bids farewell to the island on which he had been imprisoned alone for ten years, saying finally,

“I am going where I thought I never would, trusting in the winds and Great Fate, the counsel of my friends, and the god who has ordered all these things,”

…but then I came home to find my son sick, with a fever, possibly strep throat, sleeping on the couch. He revived enough to eat some toast with his mother and me at the dinner table—his sister, also sick, was already asleep upstairs—and then back to the couch with me to read a bit of The Hobbit. This was the evening’s treat:

“Old fat spider spinning in a tree!

Old fat spider can’t see me!

Attercop! Attercop!

Won’t you stop,

Stop your spinning and look for me?

“Old Tomnoddy, all big body,

Old Tomnoddy can’t spy me!

Attercop! Attercop!

Down you drop!

You’ll never catch me up your tree!”

Not very good perhaps, but then you must remember that he had to make it up himself, on the spur of a very awkward moment. It did what he wanted any way. As he sang he threw some more stones and stamped. Practically all the spiders in the place came after him: some dropped to the ground, others raced along the branches, swung from tree to tree, or cast new ropes across the dark spaces. They made for his noise far quicker than he had expected. They were frightfully angry. Quite apart from the stones no spider has ever liked being called Attercop, and Tomnoddy of course is insulting to anybody.

The children had just gotten healthy again after both being sick for the last week of December into January. But love does not need time—only a moment.

Thanks, dear reader, for being the gadfly of my discipline, which I had let my work interrupt.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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