[Ads-l] Matthew Little comments on kibosh in Penal Servitude (forwarded message)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Fri Jun 22 00:54:10 EDT 2018


On 6/17/2018 10:45 AM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> Matthew Little (co-author of the book Origin of Kibosh) sent me
> (G. Cohen) the message below with the request that I forward it to
> ads-l.  In so doing, I have removed his quotation marks and written
> the quoted items  in upper-case letters.  For easy reference, the verse
> in question says: There is one little dodge I am thinking, / That would put
> your profession all to smash, / It would put on the kibosh like winking, /
> That is if they was to introduce the lash.
>
>       Matthew's message says:
>
> If the author of PS intended the third line to function as a kind of filler
> that repeats the meaning of the second line (as distinct from offering a
> third line that the fourth will develop), I have to wonder why the author
> would use an unglossed expression that was probably pretty obscure circa
> 1830, rather than choosing among many more possibilities that could
> work between IT WOULD and LIKE WINKING, such as FINISH THE
> BUSINESS or END ALL YOUR PLEASURE or SILENCE YOUR
> LAUGHTER or STOP YOUR FINE FROLICS. And if THAT IS in the
> fourth line does not introduce an explanation of what immediately precedes,
> what purpose would these words serve?  If they do not prepare readers for a
> gloss of PUT ON THE KIBOSH, the author could have achieved greater force
> and improved the rhythm in a metrically awkward line by dropping these two
> superfluous words.
--

I surely don't know why the poet made his word choices. If "kibosh" was 
difficult to understand (in any sense), why not omit or replace it? 
Maybe he just liked it.

Before I continue, let me make sure we are on the same page.

Here is the stanza in question, as written:

There is one little dodge I am thinking,
That would put your profession all to smash.
It would put on the kibosh like winking,
That is if they was to introduce the lash.

Here is my suggested interpretation or rewording (similar to that 
previously posted):

There is one little trick, I think,
That would completely ruin your profession.
It would put the kibosh/stopper [on your profession] quick as a wink,
That is, if they were to introduce whipping.

Here is the interpretation suggested by the authors of the book, as I 
tentatively understand it (with "kibosh" glossed as "kibosh/whip":

There is one little trick, I think,
That would completely ruin your profession.
It would apply the kibosh/whip [to the felon] quick as a wink,
That is, if they were to introduce whipping.

But I see in the book (Google Books version, no page number):

"Translation of the verse into plain English: There is one thing the 
authorities can do to put an end to your criminal activities quick as a 
wink, viz., introduce the 'kibosh,' i.e., lash."

I suppose there is some slight error here: in particular the original 
surely has "like winking" = "quick as a wink" modifying "put on the 
kibosh" while the 'translation' has it modifying "put an end to your 
criminal activities". This is not a big difference in my interpretation, 
but if "kibosh" is taken as equated to "lash" there seems to be a problem.

Could someone please provide a revised proposed 'translation'/'gloss' 
comparable to those above, with four lines matching those in the 
original, with individual words 'translated' individually and kept in 
order as much as possible?

-- Doug Wilson

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