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Tmesis

Another eye-catching word, from W. H. Gardner's introduction to Poems and Prose of Gerard Manley Hopkins: tmesis. It's from the Greek "to cut" and describes a figure of speech in which something is injected in the middle of a word or phrase. Examples range from "Any-old-how" or "La-dee-freakin-da" to classical Latin as cited in Wikipedia:

... Words such as circumdare, to surround, are split apart with other words of the sentence in between, e.g. circum virum dant: "they surround the man". This device is used in this way to create a visual image of surrounding the man by means of the words on the line. ...

Hopkins uses tmesis in stanza 34 of "The Wreck of the Deutschland":

The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
        Miracle-in-Mary-of-flame,
Mid-numberèd He in three of the thunder-throne!

As editor Gardner explains it, "The second line contains a tmesis: 'Miracle-of-flame in Mary' is rearranged so that the position of 'in-Mary' suggests the furling of the child in the mother and also suggests that Mary herself is an intrinsic part of the miracle." What a lovely-rich image!

^z - 2010-02-09