A Lubrick Loosed



It's like a sly evasive wit. It's like a shy reflection on a set of cellar steps. It's like saliva on the lips. It's like a highlight to the eye; it's like a lubrick or a trick. It twists the tongue into itself as it escapes...


I found the word Lubrick in the play The Witch of Edmonton, by various hands, including John Ford (1621). In the edition to hand, The Dramatic Works of John Ford, Vol. II, Ed. Henry Weber, 1811, Winefrede's phrase "and if I find / Any loose lubrick 'scapes in him, I'll watch him" is glossed in a footnote: "Lubrick.] This is a singular use of the word, as a substantive, for a slippery trick"

In my poem, the simple trick is to make It a definite pronoun. It is something, and, for the nonce, I call it Lubrick.

I could tell a tale of how it came about.                                                   

Many years ago, in the days when people used to type long letters of ideas to each other, and pop their letters in the post, I had written to the poet Peter Riley, chattering something about something I was calling Hermes-Ariel. This was in the days when my mind was somewhere out on the seas in a coracle-drift. Peter replied to this effect: "Yes I see what you mean, but why don't you call it Sparrowspit?" That was one sort of revelation.

Many years later it reappears as A Lubrick. I am nearer to a definition: It is two-thirds of wit, half spit half shit, and the tail-end of spirit.

And that's A Tale of Sparrowspit.


    How lavish of its offices it offered silken thread, and yet how tacitly and well it kept the spell of secrecy alive within the cell, not letting any ghoul of imputation or the ghost of a suspicion ever touch or taint a hair --- if it had any --- of its silver head --- but put a subtle finger to the lips, blinked as an imp, emitted squeaks, and with a crooked limb it shut its lid.


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