Monday, November 8, 2010

A Rouzer

Jonathan Swift, Strephon and Chloe (1734), lines 191-192:
And as he fill'd the reeking Vase,
Let fly a Rouzer in her Face.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines rouser, sense 3, as "A loud noise; a noisy person, song, etc." and cites Swift. But, in plain English, a rouzer here is a fart.

Kenneth Haynes, English Literature and Ancient Languages (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), p. 58 (with note on p. 182), comments:
The force of those lines depends not only on the scatology but also on the surprising word 'Rouzer'; Geoffrey Hill has observed, 'It would be difficult to find a word that blends the outrageous and the festive more effectively than this.'45

45Geoffrey Hill, The Lords of Limit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 78.

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