Sunday, June 2, 2024

Just how far did Hinbad and Rinbad travel?

William Wright has persuaded me to take my recent nonsense poem “With?” more seriously than the spirit in which it was written. I mean, why not? Nonsense writing has long been recognized as a modality of inspiration.

Hinbad the Hailer traveled far
By riding in a yellow car.

I wrote this with no deeper thought in mind than that a “hailer” could be someone who hails a cab. Reading it now with my interpreter’s spectacles on, though, I can scarcely believe I wrote it without noticing a second meaning. Who traveled far in a yellow car? Who but Elijah, who ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire?

The j, pronounced as y in Hebrew, is not really a distinct sound from the adjoining i, which is why it is omitted in the Greek form of the name, Elias (which even begins with an H in Greek). Notice anything about the title Hailer? Try spelling it backwards.

Where does Hinbad the Hailer go? “Outside,” presumably, the same place Joan goes to make her snowball. Europa?

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? (Job 38:22-23)

There may also be a link to the One Mighty and Strong:

Behold, the Lord hath a mighty and strong one, which as a tempest of hail and a destroying storm, as a flood of mighty waters overflowing, shall cast down to the earth with the hand (Isa. 28:2).

The ice must flow! And doesn’t “cast down to the earth with the hand” sound like throwing a snowball?

If a Hailer takes a cab, a Railer must take a train, which was all I had in mind with the next couplet:

Rinbad the Railer, in a sleeper,
Traveled just as far, and cheaper.

Doesn’t that suggest someone who goes as far as Elijah, not in a spacecraft but simply by dreaming true? Perhaps a certain “Lucid Dreamer of Faery” whose middle initials were R. R. and who put his dreams in the mouth of a character called Ramer?

There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

1 comment:

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Christopher Tolkien on the name Ramer:

“The only suggestion that I can make is that my father derived it from the dialectal verb rame, with these meanings given in the Oxford English Dictionary: 'to shout, cry aloud, scream; keep up the same cry, continue repeating the same thing; obtain by persistent asking; repeat, run over'”

Cf. the verb rail:

“complain or protest strongly and persistently”

Go to the window; it’s dark but clear

In a period of just a few days, the following things happened: On May 30, William Wright proposed that the beings I know as Joan of Arc (Je...