Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 12 02:15:26 UTC 2009

I should also note that this is just the 1902 edition. I've noticed an
1868 edition as well (Beatrice and Other Poems; copied from Harvard).

I did notice, however, that in the 1930s and 1940s publications, there
are several references to "trunks like melons" and "hips like melons",
which would have been unlikely had "melons" already stood for something

On an entirely different note, Bloom County in the mid-1980s did have an
amusing episode with a couple of characters. I don't remember the exact
context but it involved a TV scene and one of the "kids" explains that
it looked like "someone had planted a field of cantaloupes".
Unfortunately my copy has been destroyed in a flooded storage unit or I
would have been able to provide a more direct reference. It's well past
the original citing, in any case.


Victor Steinbok wrote:
> 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.
>    VS-)
> 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
>> OED

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