Monday, September 12, 2011

Word of the day: iridescent

From Anu Garg’s A.Word.A.Day, it’s iridescent:


adjective: Displaying a rainbow of colors that change when seen from different angles.

From Latin irido- (rainbow), from iris (rainbow, iris plant, diaphragm of the eye), from Greek iris. Iris was the goddess of rainbows in Greek mythology. Earliest documented use: 1794.
Iridescent brings to my mind two bits of poetry. One is the first lines of Stanley Lombardo’s translation of Sappho’s appeal to Aphrodite:
                   deathless Aphrodite
Note how iridescent echoes shimmering and deathless echoes iridescent. You can read the poem and an explanation of the translation at Jacket.

Iridescent for me also means a sentence in Marianne Moore’s “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing”:
                It’s fire in the dove-neck’s

iridescence; in the
of Scarlatti.
Dove-neck’s, iridescence, in the inconsistencies, of (rhyming with dove), Scarlatti: ah! music. You can read the poem on the fly at Google Books.

A related post
Other words and works of lit (apoplexy, avatar, bandbox, heifer, sanguine, sempiternal)

comments: 1

Elaine said...

I was always partial to 'In the Spring a livelier iris/glistens on the burnished dove...'