Tag Archives: monadnock


Spring comes thickly to this monadnock, this aboriginal inselberg. It sits solitary, a lush carbuncle, a furry emerald under a rug of green. There are no ranges of monadnocks as of Adirondacks and Monashees; a monadnock is a monad cnoc (there’s an Erse word for you, cnoc for hill), penetrating the peneplain, an instance of a type of which the archetype is Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, grandee of Algonquian name: Mount Isolated-Mountain.

So sits this, as remote as Maunganui, as grand as Mount Doom, but no volcano. Still it erupts: the verdure effloresces, and the clines of this eminence are a riot of inflorescence: raceme, corymb, umbel, panicle, thyrse, spadix, verticillaster, spikelet, ament, catkin, strobile, elating side by each. Waxwing, chickadee, and nuthatch flit and peck in this boreal forest; in the crepuscule and accreting dark the spike-billed woodcock rasps its froglike call. And in the syntax trees we catch the scrape of the claws of the nesting clause, which builds its inset breeding ground by weaving twigs, sprigs, fronds, scions, and tendrils as it delectates the lexis that everywhere expresses itself.

For we are in word country. This monadnock of manic thickets is no mere geologic rampike nor escaped esker or spring-gone pingo. Every kind of syntax tree grows here. There are short sentences. Sentence fragments. Passives can be seen. Look for the imperatives. You may find following a vine of a sentence you discover yourself down a garden path.

The ten thousand things revel in their names here, grow juicy nasals and voiced stops and succulent liquids, crisp aspirated plosives, fricatives with stridor that outstrips susurrus and cicadas, and vowels, oh, ah, ay, vowels so long a cuckoo may exhaust itself flying singing along them, and curious diphthongs twining out aside and around, and short sounds that skitter and rattle as quickly as a woodpecker’s chips. The monadnock’s mossy boulders hum with the richness of /m/ and /n/ and turn the ear quickly with the unexpected post-nasalized stop /dn/, and then you crack the rock itself.

This is all fertilized by millennia of quotations and citations and attestations and instances. As you traverse the base of our inselberg you step over Melville: “His great, Monadnock hump.” You embark on the trail, your foot upon Emerson: “Monadnoc is a mountain strong.” The plants clustered by the spring, the source, the fons et origo of the brook that parts this forest, are nourished by W.M. Davis from an 1870 National Geographic: “In my teaching, Monadnock has come to be recognized as an example of a distinct group of forms, and its name is used as having a generic value. A long paragraph of explanation is packed away when describing some other mountain as a ‘monadnock’ of greater or less height.”

But beware the population of poppies on the pool’s perimeter. Their seeds are the very seeds of words themselves, but you may relax and be lax as you drink in and find your self drink ing on till you are under the in flu ence of morphemes. No, you must stay clear of mind, for today we stalk that prehistorical theriomorph that fertilizes, enriches, fructifies, fecundates, prolificates this forest and its undergrowth, the monadnock’s eudaemonic thesaurus.