“And what pray, is your idea of the duties of a devoted friend?” asked a green Linnet, who was sitting in a willow-tree hard by, and had overheard the conversation. p. 25
A linnet, according to my trusty old Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary is “a common small Old World finch (Carduelis cannabin) having plumage that varies greatly according to age, sex, and season.” The picture is from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. On their Linnet page, they have more details including a recording of this bird’s lovely little song.
The words porphyry and anodyne appear in one long sentence in “The Young King” about a boy who grew up in the country believing himself to be a goatherd but is now obsessed by the beauties of his new life at the castle:
He missed, indeed, at times the fine freedom of his forest life, and was always apt to chafe at the tedious Court ceremonies that occupied so much of each day, but the wonderful place — Joyeuse, as they called it — of which he now found himself lord, seemed to him to be a new world fresh-fashioned for his delight; and as soon as he could escape from the council-board or audience-chamber, he would run down the great staircase, with its lions of gilt bronze and its steps of bright porphyry, and wander from room to room, and from corridor to corridor, like one seeking to find in beauty an anodyne from pain, a sort of restoration from sickness. p. 75
Back to the New Collegiate, porphyry is “a rock consisting of feldspar crystals embedded in a compact dark red or purple groundmass.” Doesn’t that sound pretty? Our word “purple” goes back to the same Greek root. Anodyne is “a drug that allays pain” and is also used metaphorically to mean “something that soothes, calms, or comforts.”
Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”