by pied and pansied margins.

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Senior Member
Hi folks, this is cited from Wellingborough Redburn by Hermann Melville (1849)
Question: Melville draws a parallel between Harry’s voice and the sound of a brook, it is ok.
I wonder if he deliberately uses “winds and wantons” and “pied and pansied” on behalf of poetry? Does bold one refer to “side of that brook?”

His voice was just the voice to proceed from a small, silken person like his; it was gentle and liquid, and meandered and tinkled through the words of a song, like a musical brook that winds and wantons by pied and pansied margins.
  • PaulQ

    English - England
    Pied" in this sense is relatively rare. It comes from cookery, in which, to make a pie, you mix up the ingredients. Thus Pied = mixed up; jumbled; in random order; messy.
    Pansied = with pansies (a type of flower)
    Margins = the banks of a stream.

    To wanton is now obsolete - to idle away one's time.


    Senior Member
    English English
    Wow, it's a very exaggerated simile!

    Yes, 'winds and wantons' and 'pied and pansies' are alliterative, an aspect of poetic language.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Pansy" strongly suggests a homosexual or effeminate man these days (at least, it did in the 20th century). I don't know how old this usage is, so I don't know whether Melville is satirizing the singer (or his audience, the banks of the stream?) in this way.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't see any problem at all; the banks of the stream were strewn with flowers of varied colours.

    The suggestion that the edges of the watercourse were showing homosexual inclinations if far-fetched even for WR.;
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