Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 12 01:59:10 UTC 2009

I don't want to suggest that this is a clear example of "use" of melons
in the requisite sense, but there is more going on in Roden Noel's poem
Beatrice than merely literal text. (The Collected Poems of Roden Noel,
London, 1902, p. 27--GoogleBooks copy from Indiana) It certainly would
not qualify for OED citation, but it's worth noting nonetheless.

> >
Ah! How she envied yon brown melon-girl
Emerging from the cork-grove up the steps
Of rock, her apron full of luscious fruit,
Chiding the dark-eyed peasant-boy,
Yet laughingly, for winding his strong arm
About her waste, endangering the melons.
> >

It's possible that I am simply reading this through the now familiar
euphemism that might not have been available to Noel, but, it seems,
there may well be dual meaning here. ;-)

Perhaps I would have been less certain of this had the next couple of
line not possessed a similar duality. And even if it is not the original
intent, it is certainly a good demonstration how temporal euphemisms and
metaphors can corrupt literary interpretations.


Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
> On Fri, Sep 11, 2009 at 11:01:48AM -0800, David Bowie wrote:
>> A student here is trying to figure out how far back "melons" for female
>> breasts goes. The OED has 1957 as the earliest use for that sense, but
>> he thinks he may have found something that plays on that sense from
>> 1862--but only maybe. Is there any other evidence that the term was used
>> that way that early?
> Uh, if there were, we'd put it in. This is in the revised range....
> Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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