Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Apples and Pears and Poems

Sometimes just to be silly, I call a poem a pome. I wrote the word in an e-mail to my brother a few days ago. He wrote back, “That’s not a word! You misspelled it.” He just thought I made a typo. I knew I’d heard it before, so I looked it up.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word pome refers to “a fleshy fruit (as an apple or pear) consisting of an outer thickened fleshy layer and a central core with usually five seeds enclosed in a capsule.” It comes to us from Middle English—pume, Anglo-French—pomme, and Latin—pomum. In French today, pomme is the word you’d use if you asked for an apple. A pomme de terre, apple of the earth, is a potato.

It is not surprising that the word has medieval roots. After all, nothing like that just comes popping up out of nowhere here in the twenty-first century. We often think we originate quite a number of things.

Now, if you think about it, a poem is not so different from an apple or a pear. It has a sweet, juicy central core and some seeds to plant.

The picture comes from Acclaim Photography web site.

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