Naming names

I managed along to the Dunbar Writers’ group last night, and as always had a great time. A fortnight ago, when I came off my bike, as I pushed it home with my good arm, and knowing that something had broken in the other one, I thought, “This is so unfair, I’ve done my ‘homework’ for tonight.” So I asked to read it last night, before I read last night’s homework. I think it’s a possible competition entry, so I won’t post it, but I will post the poem I wrote for the last meeting.

We were asked to find out about our names, and to write something about that, so this is my effort. Apologies if the Latin title is wrong – I was never a classical scholar.

De rerum nominibus

It starts with a dove –
Columba, livia or palumba,
Rock or Stock – it’s misty
which was tamed and trained
to home, to scatter from boxes
with a clatter of pinions,
bred paler, whiter,
to become the dove of peace.

Colmkille took that name,
exiled for plagiarism and slaughter
from Clonard to Kintyre,
given hearth on Iona.

It’s more likely true than not
the saint walked the Pictish bounds
of Fortriu, debated with King Bridei,
with whom I feel more kindred.

So did pious parents
name me for an Irish Saint?
No. I’m secular, called after
their trysting place, Colinton Dell,
and its origins are mistier still.
Culling Toun, or Coling Toun
are names not yet resolved,
their etymologies unfigured.
When you get down to it
I’m still a man of mystery.

Colin Will


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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5 Responses to Naming names

  1. Danish dog says:


  2. Colin Will says:

    Thanks DD

  3. Danish dog says:

    On second thoughts, ablative singular isn’t any good as “rerum” is in the plural. So you’ll actually be wanting “nominibus” to have concord. I think the word order could be better too, so I suggest “De rerum nominibus”.


  4. Colin Will says:

    What I was aiming at was a latinised version of ‘On the names of things’, to give a suggestion of Columba’s textual language.

  5. Danish dog says:

    Yes, I got your intention, Colin, and “De rerum nominibus” is your best bet.

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