“Faint-not: I will take the dark part of your heart into my heart…”
Joshua Poteat’s somber dictionary, “Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature,” first appeared in our “Bedeviled” issue in fall 2015. Click on the broadside below to print a copy for yourself, or scroll down to read the full text without formatting.
Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature
Dear friend, you are like God. We pray to Him, & He answers “No.”
Then we pray to Him to rescind the “No” & He don’t answer at all.
– E. Dickinson
From-above: come down.
Free-gift: breathe through the fever.
More-fruit: make sweet what’s given.
Faint-not: I will take the dark part of your heart into my heart.
Praise-god Barebone: a pyre of sleeves for my lady’s grace.
If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned Barebone: live again.
Fear-god Barebone: you run like a herd of luminous deer.
Learn-wisdom and Hate-evil: quiverful of children, alchemists hale to prison.
Tribulation wholesome, Zeal-of-the-land busy: deliver us.
Safe-on-Highe, Muche-merceye, Increased, Sin-denie, Lambkin: gentle always gentle.
Sorry-for-sin Copuard: No-merit Vynall: Continent Walker: you are covered in silt and wearing the antlers again.
Preserved Fish: the only childe left in the sea.
Job-rakt-out-of-the-asshes: alive one day, a little pigeon-hole among the sheep.
These names went to Virginia, and they are not forgotten.
Joy-in-sorrow: who saw visions.
The bastard Helpless Henly: buried in skillful rain.
Peregrine, be useful: one day this pain will be patient to you.
Joshua Poteat is the author of The Regret Histories, winner of the 2014 National Poetry Series. The book appeared with HarperCollins in 2015. He has published two other collections, Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World and Ornithologies, as well as three chapbooks: Meditations, For the Animal, and The Scenery of Farewell and Hello Again.
Featured image: drying fish in Oqaatsut, Greenland. Wikimedia Commons.