Nature is prodigal <of><with> her gifts.

Mnemon

Senior Member
Persian - پارسی - 𐎱𐎾𐎿𐎡
Nature is prodigal of her gifts. The sweet air as it sweeps from zone to zone is more than enough to fan every cheek;
Seeing Things Whole: The Essential John Wesley Powell book


1. Wouldn't it be better if we changed the preposition to "with"?
Nature is prodigal with her gifts.

2. Is it wrong to say:
Nature is prodigal of its gifts.
 
  • Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi Mnemon, there's barely any difference - see the Ngram. "Prodigal of" sounds higher style, to my ear, though "prodigal" is, in any case, rather a formal word.
    You could say nature is generous (with its/her gifts), nature bestows its/her gifts generously, for example.

    If you are personifying nature, then always "her" in English - it's Mother Nature. If you are not personifying nature, then "its".
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I’m inclined to suggest that there’s a difference in meaning:

    He was prodigal with his fortune — he spread money around, was generous with it

    He was prodigal of his fortune — he spent it lavishly/unwisely, squandered it
     

    Mnemon

    Senior Member
    Persian - پارسی - 𐎱𐎾𐎿𐎡
    Hi Mnemon, there's barely any difference - see the Ngram. "Prodigal of" sounds higher style, to my ear, though "prodigal" is, in any case, rather a formal word.
    You could say nature is generous (with its/her gifts), nature bestows its/her gifts generously, for example.

    If you are personifying nature, then always "her" in English - it's Mother Nature. If you are not personifying nature, then "its".
    Hello @Enquiring Mind ,
    How are you? Actually, I haven't seen your comments for a long time.
    Thanks for your contribution to the thread.
    I’m inclined to suggest that there’s a difference in meaning:

    He was prodigal with his fortune — he spread money around, was generous with it

    He was prodigal of his fortune — he spent it lavishly/unwisely, squandered it
    Thanks. Interesting LB. It somehow supports my suggestion that "with" could be a better choice!
    There used to be a large difference. Now there is little difference - my guess is that is because people aren't using the word anymore.
    Thanks. I am going to use it from this moment forth, a lot, who knows, it may start catching on, again. ;)
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Nature is prodigal of her gifts. The sweet air as it sweeps from zone to zone is more than enough to fan every cheek;
    Seeing Things Whole: The Essential John Wesley Powell book


    1. Wouldn't it be better if we changed the preposition to "with"?
    Nature is prodigal with her gifts.

    2. Is it wrong to say:
    Nature is prodigal of its gifts.
    This has to be a mid 19th century text, and in a poetic register if not actual verse. None of this could be written today. I am going to Google. My bet is between 1840 and 1860, American. Back in a minute!

    And bingo! Yes!

    John Wesley Powell - Wikipedia
     

    Ponyprof

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Thanks. Could you please be more specific. :)
    It's hard for me to explain to someone who isn't familiar with American 19th century writing. First off, he sounds like he's been readinging Emerson. Then the vocabulary. Prodigal used correctly :), the wind fanning the cheek, and the phrase zone to zone. There is the rather poetic construction of the sentences.

    I think we don't feel Nature is prodigal anymore. We feel nature is under threat and we have destroyed much of it.

    Real attention to the beauty of nature emerges in British Romantic period, 1790s to 1820 or so. In the United States this gets taken up about 1840 by Emerson and a cluster of writers inspired by him, such as Whitman, Melville, Hawthorne. This burst of creative energy is cut short by the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, and literature in the 1870s and 1880s and onward tends to be more realistic and concerned with social problems.

    I had never heard of Powell, and he may well have written these lines after 1860, but it is very much in the flavor of Emerson.

    And I myself am very curious where you came across him and why you are interested in him! Has someone edited a modern anthology of his work? Does he have importance in another field?
     
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