The jabberwock of gruilt


After a while, you begin to wonder when you will be free from the grip of grief. Not just grief. Grief alone doesn’t cover it. Grief and guilt. Not a full measure of guilt, not even a half-measure, but certainly measurable.

It would be handy if there was one word that combined the feelings of grief and guilt — a portmanteau* as it’s ostentatiously called. ‘Gruilt’ is as close as it gets.

Be that as it may, as the cliché goes, it would be a relief, a liberation to be able to begin a story, a post, a poem in the manner of the 17th century English poet John Milton who began his poem ‘L’Allegro’ with the line, ‘Hence, loathèd Melancholy’, to begin your post, as I was saying with the words, Hence, loathèd Grief — slyly equipped with that whimsical adornment of the grave (pron. grarve) accent over the ‘e.’


And to end your story, post, poem as Milton ended ‘L’Allegro’: ‘Mirth, with thee I mean to live.’

Thus is not the case. This is the case, in the words of Lewis Carroll: 

‘The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!’


*Herewith the ‘aesthetic evil of the footnote’ (J.D. Salinger): The term portmanteau was first used by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ — “there are two meanings packed up into one word,” he said.


The word portmanteau is a portmanteau in itself, a combination of the French words ‘porter’ (to carry) and ‘manteau’ (a cloak).

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