Academic journal article English Journal


Academic journal article English Journal


Article excerpt

ramble (v):

the amorous cat in 15th-century amsterdam

prowls its alleys and cobblestone streets,

slinks along canals lit by sunrise and

through market stalls below the shadowed church;

his one eye notes the cod's head beneath the

fishmonger's skirts,

appraises the twisted ribbon of horse intestine

coiled like an indolent snake in the butcher's gutter;

rests on the arched back and raised

tail of a calico in the doorway of a

prostitute's cabin whose red light will

flicker through an evening of cabbage, ale, and


the dutch say the one-eyed tom rambles.

their word back then was rammen:

the night wanderings of the amorous cat.

-not to be confused with bramble, a rough, prickly


like blackberries or raspberries, from which stems

the word broom

which, a thousand years ago, meant something sharp

and to the point:

a cat's claw, a fish bone, a tongue, a witty reply-

and we, too, have rambled in our fashion:

across fields covered in heather and broom;

along wandering, moonlit paths towards a tryst

at the edge of a forest, or towards a bedroom

in a manor house where ivy and roses

spread thorny blankets over garden walls. …

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