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Sunday, May 10, 2020


by Pauletta Hansel

John Tenniel illustration for "Jabberwocky"

In poetry talk we call it “word-play,” 
tricking nouns up adverbial,  and verbing the adjectives  
till they gyre and gimble in the wabe,
but there’s no play at play here.

Example of PANDEMIC in a sentence:
In the middle months of 2020, the use of the former adjective as noun
was pandemic.
Facebook posts about the COVID-19 disease, AKA coronavirus
were pandemic.
Grief over the untimely death of (fill in the blank) was … 
You get the point.  Let’s move on.

There’s no place to go. 

Time Travel for PANDEMIC: 
The first known use was as an adjective in 1666.
See more words from the same year:
            Auld lang syne

Take your choice of neighbors: PANDEMONIUM or PANDER.
Example of PANDER in a sentence:
A few Republican governors chose to stop pandering 
to their country’s demagogue (the frumious Bandersnatch
and serve the people instead.

A Dictionary Guide to Coronavirus Related Words: Deciphering the Terminology You Are Likely to Hear:
            Social Distancing
            Contact Tracing
            Fomite “Rhymes with ‘toe blight.’” (Yes, the dictionary really says that.)
            Martial law (The martial part of which 
            comes from Mars, the god of war, whereas the pan
            in pandemic is unrelated to the goat-headed god 
                        The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
            of the wild.)

History and Etymology for PANDEMIC
            From the Greek:
            pan      +          demos 
            all        +          people
            More at DEMAGOGUE

(Told you: No place to go.)      

Author's Notes: Obviously, the italicized lines are from Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.”  The dictionary used for this poem was  While there are a number of news sources for the demagoguery in our nation, here’s a recent one about a Republican governor continuing to take a reasonable stance: I also find it interesting that the dictionary chose “toe blight” as its rhyme example before the news appearance of COVID toes:

Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award. Her writing has been featured in Rattle and Still: The Journal, and on The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Pauletta was Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate (2016- 2018). In Poetry Month 2020 she worked with the current Poet Laureate to curate Cincinnati’s Postcards from the Pandemic Project