Monday, September 14, 2020

'Not Tomblike—Shrinal'

Dedicated free-versers will tell you rhyme is a straitjacket, an arbitrary constriction of their precious freedom.  Then you have a poet like A.E. Stallings who says, “Rhyme is a sort of echolocation—you speak out into the world, and it answers back to you.” In gifted hands, rhyme can jump-start a recalcitrant poem. Let’s say you end a line with vinyl. Not a dead end, surely, though final suggests it. There’s spinal. At least one rhyming website contributes vaginal, but not the way I pronounce it. The same site offers up Michael and Bible, which don’t sound to my ears even like respectable near-rhymes, but do leave room for comedy. In “Universal Horror,” Boris Dralyuk finds an ingenious answer:

“Motes build tract housing in the grooves of vinyl.
An eerie calm prevails. Not tomblike—shrinal.”

That rhyming website gives 225 matches for vinyl but the closest it comes to shrinal is pathetic – shrine of. I’m guessing it’s Boris’ coinage, though the OED backs him up, barely. After the self-evident definition -- “containing or forming a shrine” – comes a single citation from Notes & Queries in 1884:  “The four daughters . . . of whom one has left her name, St. Sidwell, in a shrinal church on the blood-stained spot.” Not a happy association but one worth pursuing, especially as I have never heard of St. Sidwell. The Oxford Book of Saints tells us Sidwell was a virgin saint, “possibly of British origin, [who] has been culted at Exeter from early times; by 1000, pilgrims visited her shrine.” Here comes the grim part, keeping with Boris’ horror-movie ambiance:

“The late medieval catalogue of English saints [Catalogus Sanctorum Pausantium in Anglia] describes her as follows: ‘Born at Exeter, she was killed by her stepmother inciting the reapers to behead her. She was buried outside the city, where by her merits God heals the sick.’”

Boris includes an epigraph with his poem: “Hollywood Movie Posters is the oldest memorabilia store in the world located in the same location with the same proprietor.” Go here to see the site where Boris found it and watch the video interview with the shop’s owner, Ron Borst, who tells us he once paid $1,000 for an original poster from the 1931 horror movie Frankenstein. In 2015, it went at auction for $358,500. The movie starred the other Boris – Karloff.

1 comment:

Nige said...

'Culted' is interesting too. 'Cult' as a verb? I've never come across that before.