A 1648 "smiley face"

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 15 03:35:53 UTC 2014

The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal has a short piece today on whether poet
Robert Herrick (1591-1674) made use of a smiley face in "To Fortune,"
published in 1648.  You can read Madrigal's report here,


or http://ow.ly/vNagd

I see that Alan Jacobs rightly takes issue with the interpretation
that the  : ) at the end of one of Herrick's lines was meant to be an


or http://ow.ly/vNbiF

In his argument, Jacobs relies on the earliest printing (1844) he can
most easily find of the poem.  This, a version at Google Books,
retains the colon, but lacks the parentheses.

And yet it's apparent that the 1648 printing of "To Fortune" does
indeed feature the collocation of a colon and a close parenthesis
(along with an open parenthesis to begin things with), but so does "To
Anthea" on the next page, and "To M. Denham, on his Prospective Poem,"
which appears on the page before "To Fortune."  (To be clear, I am in
the anti-Herrick-invented-the-emoticon camp.)

Anyway, images from the 1648 printing of "To Fortune" and "To Anthea"
will be at http://ow.ly/vN9oO for a week or so.  (I got those from

Of course, these "earliest emoticon" discussions have come up before.
Not surprisingly, Ben Zimmer has written a terrific analysis of these


or http://ow.ly/vNbrc

-- Bonnie

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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