Sunday, June 22, 2008


I was looking for a book in my library today and stumbled upon a volume of poetry I don't believe I'd ever looked through. Not sure when or why I even bought it, but something about it must have appealed to me (aside from sharing a surname with the author and the possibility of being related).

The book is simply titled Poems, by Emma Mayhew Whiting, privately printed at San Francisco in 1948.

I thumbed through the pages and landed on a poem titled Pinkletinks. What the heck is a pinkletink? Too interesting a word to put the book back on the shelf. I had to go pinkletink googling.

From the Dictionary of American Regional English, edited by Joan Houston Hall, a pinkletink is defined as a small tree frog found on Martha's Vineyard. Also called a spring-peeper, it makes a sound that inspired the moniker pinkletink. I have found other theories that challenge that etymology. Maybe nobody knows for sure how such a strange name evolved, but it did.

Scouring the Internet, I think I found a photo of a pinkletink:

Interesting onomatopoeia (or not) aside, what was it about a pinkletink that would inspire a poem by Ms. Whiting? Well, the word pinkletink is only used on Martha's Vineyard. Ms. Whiting was from Martha's Vineyard and there seems to be quite a tradition through the generations on that island of listening each spring for the pinkletink chorus. These sounds signal an end to winter and the beginnings of spring. After a long winter, I guess it doesn't take much to get excited. Tickled pink for pinkletinks they are. And if I had a nickel for everytime pinkletink got transposed into tickled pink for a cheap laugh...

The pinkletink makes another appearance in Whiting's book--a poem titled Granny's, which is about the authors memories of visiting her grandmother's house "near a pond where pinkletinks trill."

But here's the one that bears the title that caught my eye:

Click on the image to enlarge it

Friday, June 20, 2008

Engraving of Johannes Palm, Bookseller, on trial

I was pleased to find recently what appears to be a late 19th century steel engraving of Bavarian bookseller, Johannes Palm, on trial before Napoleon's troops, the subject of my first entry on this blog. The engraving is from Cassell's Illustrated History of England. I have only the page from the book containing the illustration, but my research indicates it came from either Volume 5 or 6 of that set.

Palm stands before the uniformed French troops in a vain attempt to defend himself against seditious charges. The look on his face says it all. He knows he's dead.

And it's interesting to note in this illustration that Palm has a full head of hair. The illustration form my first blog entry (see link above) depicts him as bald or balding. I suppose each illustrator used artistic license in his rendering, but it would be interesting to know if either had any information on what Palm actually looked like.