gleaming the faded herbage of the camp nigh by

celine713

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi everyone! from Cooper's the last of the mohicans

...a general movement among the domestics, and a low sound of gentle voices, announced the approach of those whose presence alone was wanted to enable the cavalcade to move.The simple admirer of the war-horse instantly fell back to a low,gaunt, switch-tailed mare, that was unconsciously gleaning the faded herbage of the camp nigh by...
what is the red part saying?
 
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Is this what the author wrote word for word? I wouldn't have thought to gleam was transitive (i.e you cannot gleam something). Are you sure it does not say "gleaming in the faded verbiage"?

    I would re-check every word in the sentence as it seems peculiar. It was written in 1826 so should be fairly conventional.
     

    ewhite

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    I suspect the word in question might be "gleaning", which means to gather what is left over after a field has been reaped.

    The mare would then be eating what the passage of time has left in the field.

    And my congratulations for attempting James Fenimore Cooper! His writing style is not easy, even for native speakers.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    That makes more sense, ewhite. A horse would not be conscious or otherwise of "gleaming", but "gleaning" (i.e. eating, grazing) without being conscious of it is quite believable. Even humans do this!

    It's really important to make sure quotations are given correctly!

    (Yes, I think I will give Cooper a miss, after reading this!)
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    Yes it must be 'gleaning' though I see the typo of 'gleaming' is repeated on the chinadaily.com BBS.

    The part in red is saying "stripping the nearby camp bare of the little grass that remained there."

    You'll find this absolute sense of 'glean' ('leaving absolutely nothing behind') in the Bible.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Gleaning is supported by at least one other source.

    Does gleaning have to mean leaving nothing behind?
    It typically means coming along after others have harvested the crop to pick up what they have left behind, but I hadn't the sense that gleaning left nothing - other than the logical conclusion that gleaners are probably poor people who would not leave anything behind.

    I think I have confused myself.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I don't see that it is explicit that to glean means to leave nothing behind. No definitions I have seen (including etymology) mention this.
     

    mgarizona

    Senior Member
    US - American English
    It's not the standard meaning, which is why I refered to this as an "absolute sense."

    The OED gives two transitive definitions of 'glean'

    1. To gather or pick up (ears of corn or other produce) after the reapers, etc. [clearly the standard usage]
    2. To strip (a field, vineyard, etc.) of the produce left by the regular gatherers.

    There is an injunction in Leviticus (where else!) against gleaning one's vines, in the sense of removing every last grape.

    For me, this is the sense Cooper is employing. If you read it otherwise, I have no problem with that.
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    OH,my~obviously the text in my hand made a typo, my apology for making everyone confused! :( after I checked the source provided by panj, I had to announce : not gleaming, but gleaning, sorry again!

    Back to the context, whether "glean"here means "leave nothing behind"or not is an open discussion:) I thank all of you here for pointing out the typo!
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Yes it must be 'gleaning' though I see the typo of 'gleaming' is repeated on the chinadaily.com BBS.

    The part in red is saying "stripping the nearby camp bare of the little grass that remained there."

    You'll find this absolute sense of 'glean' ('leaving absolutely nothing behind') in the Bible.
    Hi, mgarizona, what does"absolute sense" mean?
     
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