Sunday 6 May 2018

A Juicy Morning, A Livelier Iris

'After breakfast I lit a cigarette and went to the open window to inspect the day. It certainly was one of the best and brightest.
"Jeeves," I said.
"Sir?" said Jeeves. He had been clearing away the breakfast things, but at the sound of the young master's voice cheesed it courteously.
"You were absolutely right about the weather. It is a juicy morning."
"Decidedly, sir."
"Spring and all that."
"Yes, sir."
"In the spring, Jeeves, a livelier iris gleams upon the burnished dove."
"So I have been informed, sir."
"Right ho! Then bring me my whangee, my yellowest shoes, and the old green Homburg. I'm going into the Park to do pastoral dances."

[P.G. Wodehouse, The Inimitable Jeeves]

Bertie Wooster's quotation – the kind of thing every young man about town once had on his lips – is from Tennyson's Locksley Hall, and is slightly wrong (Jeeves forbears to correct it): 'In the spring, a livelier iris changes on the burnished dove.'
Locksley Hall is a fascinating, if overwrought, poem, a monodrama in a similar register to Maud but with a much wider sweep. It even, bizarrely, appears to foresee aviation, both civil and military, when the narrator
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain’d a ghastly dew
From the nations’ airy navies grappling in the central blue...

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