written in the water

Discussion in 'English Only' started by pepbelone, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. pepbelone Member

    Somewhere in Spain
    Spain Spanish
    I'm referring to John Keats' epitaph, originally 'here lies the man whose name was writ in the water'. But I'd like to know if it's correct nowadays to say 'written on water' and if there's any important difference in meaning between both: 'written in the water' / 'written on water'
  2. Siberia

    Siberia Senior Member

    UK-Wales - English
    I think it is "written in water" - he was referring to his many enemies and their malaciousness that had caused him much grief - in water because of the many tears he shed when writing or made them shed?
  3. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    It is a beautifully evocative line of poetry and any change to it is unthinkable.

  4. maxiogee Banned


    An epitaph is eternal. It cannot be 'originally' as that would imply that it later changed.
  5. . 1 Banned

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I'm tempted to use that.
    I had never considered this as an aspect to the choice of that particular epitaph.
    It is like carving a candle in the wind or painting a zephyr or singing of the scent of youth.

  6. Woofer Senior Member

    English, USA
    "writ in the water" (you're right, the meaning is "written in") sort of describes its own meaning. It means his name will disappear soon after his death. It's an older quote from a now-forgotten 16th? Century play.
  7. pepbelone Member

    Somewhere in Spain
    Spain Spanish
    In no way I wanted to "change" anything from the epitaph by Keats. I just wanted to know what the difference is betweeen the use of both prepositions in / on used in a sentence such as "written __ the water".

    Thank you all;)

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