Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Rhyming love

Famously, there are few rhymes for 'love', and most of the ones that exist are without, or of only glancing, relevance to the concept: 'glove', 'shove', 'dove'. Poets are left either with 'above', whose elevation, rather sentimentally (indeed, rather misleadingly) strikes an appropriate note, or else with sight-rhymes (a contradiction in terms, that phrase) like 'move' and 'prove'.

I wonder: what if this paucity of rhyme words is not simply a coincidence? What if it reflects a subconscious English cultural desire to separate 'love', in this small way, from the vulgar herd of other words, to preserve its uniqueness and singularity? That would suggest a nicety not shared by other languges (there are plenty of rhymes for amour, after all). It would also, rather oddly, suggest that certain other words ('orange') have a similarly unique position in our collection unconscious. For the love of any number of oranges ...

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