loom of the land

ron1759

Senior Member
U.S. - English
Nick Cave has a song called "The Loom of the Land." It begins:

It was the dirty end of winter
Along the loom of the land
When I walked with sweet Sally
Hand upon hand

Has anyone heard the expression "loom of the land" before?

Or "loom" referring to a geological feature?

Thanks.
 
  • Dimcl

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Googling "Loom of the Land" gets 26,000 hits and they all seem to be references to this song.

    I've never heard it before and have no clue what it means... which launches me into my usual advice not to learn English through pop songs. You'll note that the last line is "hand upon hand". This doesn't really make sense either except that the two syllables in "upon" work better for the tempo than would the one-syllable "in".

    Songwriters take great license with the language. I suspect that "loom of the land" means something (or not) to the songwriter and that we'd have to ask him.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't know Nick Cave well, but maybe he is referring to the Oxford English Dictionary's loom (noun 3): A seaman's term for the indistinct and exaggerated appearance or outline of an object when it first comes into view, as the outline of land on the horizon, an object seen through the mist or darkness, etc. The dictionary gives the following examples (among others):
    1862 H. KINGSLEY Ravenshoe li, A dark line, too faint for landsmen's eyes, far ahead, which changed into a loom of land.
    1881 Times 30 May 6/4 Suddenly the loom of a rock was seen right ahead.
    1889 DOYLE Micah Clarke 244 Looking back there was nothing but a dim loom to show where we had left the great vessel.
     
    Last edited:

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    English, UK
    I'm with se16teddy on this. I have only ever heard loom used as a verb meaning to appear slowly out of a fog or darkness, but I am not surprised that it is used as a noun too. This can have nothing to do with the machine, loom, on which textiles are woven.
     

    ron1759

    Senior Member
    U.S. - English
    Thanks for the comments.

    The dictionary gives the following examples (among others):
    1862 H. KINGSLEY Ravenshoe li, A dark line, too faint for landsmen's eyes, far ahead, which changed into a loom of land.
    1881 Times 30 May 6/4 Suddenly the loom of a rock was seen right ahead.
    These examples seem especially appropriate. Thanks, se16teddy.
     
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