Nowadays my mind wanders ever more capriciously. Yesterday it happened again, whilst looking up the definition of a Spenserian Stanza in the Concise Oxford Dictionary.
It was while pondering this definition that my eye fell upon the run of subsequent entries in my beloved dictionary. The entry for Spenserian is followed by an entry for Spent, and then, by happy happenchance, with another entry for Sperm.
So it followed that at one moment I was thinking about Spenser’s stanza in the Faerie Queene, with eight iambic pentameters and an alexandrine, and in the very next moment my mind was absorbed in Sperm.
Did you know that the word Sperm is either singular or plural? Or that sperm contains spermatozoa, which is the plural of spermatozoon? And that a spermatozoon begins its life as a spermatogonium, after which it develops into a spermatocyte before becoming the mature motile sex cell that looks and moves like a tadpole?
Gadzooks, I thought! All this extraneous information! My mind was swimming. I imagined myself as a spermatozoon, swimming like a tadpole. Suddenly, I rediscovered my erstwhile interest in genealogy, and I realised I had missed a trick. We are all descended from tadpoles, aren’t we?
But not any old ordinary tadpoles, mind you, but winning tadpoles, by which I mean those precious few; those who create the world’s population; those who succeed where countless zillions of others fail.
We should therefore be far more proud of our immediate ancestor – that special tadpole - than all the ancestors that we normally think of. And I think that the humble yet winning spermatozoon (?) should really be given a name of its own, and be known as the spermato-ZOOM.
Credit where credit is due, that is what I say.
Three cheers for the spermato-ZOOM!
Yesterday, my girlfriend’s youngest daughter announced her first pregnancy. We were the first to know, and I am due to become an honorary granddad again. And in seven months time, I hope to rediscover the extraordinary delight of cradling a new-born baby in my arms again. We'll have to travel back 2,000 miles from our winter retreat to do that, but I’ll probably be browsing my dictionary en route...
Here’s the opening verse from the Faerie Queene:
LO I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far vnfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;
Whose prayses hauing slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broad emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loues shall moralize my song.
1 year ago