Word for Wednesday: G is for…glaucous!

In a rare show of determined effort, I actually made it to the gym this morning!  It has been overcast for the past couple of days, and as I pounded it out on the treadmill, I had a panoramic view of the gloomy sea, reflecting the grey-blue misery of the sky above.  The heavens finally opened by midday today, with an accompanying impressively loud fanfare of rumbling thunder. It actually feels like a relief, as the air was thick enough to slice, and the skies had been low and heavy all morning, ominous with rain.

In Tender is the Night, F Scott Fitzgerald writes that

‘it was past four and under a blue-gray sky the first fishing boats were creaking out into a glaucous sea.’

His description fits perfectly; almost as if he’d been writing beside me.  It wasn’t an uplifting vista; not for me anyway.  Certainly not in the same way that blue skies, sparkling seas and sunshine are.  But it was quite powerfully energising looking out at the shifting, brooding grey skies and pounding glaucous waves.

Glaucous  (adjective).

  • bluish-green, greyish-green, grey
  • a dull or pale colour
  • having a powdery or waxy coating that gives a frosted appearance and tends to rub off
  • covered with a powdery bloom like that on grapes.

Derivation: Latin glaucus, silvery, grey, from Greek glaukos gleaming, gray.  First Known Use: 1671.

Glaucous seems to be one of those words perfectly fitted to descriptions of the sea and marine themes.  Still on roughly the right tracks, but not to be confused with Glaucus, who was an immortal Greek god of the sea, having transcended his human form when he ate a magical herb.  Once a maritime man himself, he was believed to rescue sailors and fishermen in storms. Appropriate for today’s choppy seas, I thought.

The English author and poet, Malcolm Lowry,had much in common with his more famous American peer, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  He included ‘The Bravest Boat’ in his collection of short stories, Hear us O Lord in heaven thy dwelling place.  Where

‘gulls, glaucous and raucous, wheeled and sailed overhead’.

A beautifully poetic line from a talented and troubled man, and a subtly clever reference to the type of gull known as the Glaucous gull.

My associated picture this time?  Not a gull, but another blue-grey bird.  The grey heron.  A trick of the light, of course, but it sometimes even seems as though it shifts colours in response to the sky, like the sea does. This shot was from a very sunny day in the Maldives, but whatever the skies above, I always think that the beautiful grey heron shines in his solemn solitude.

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2 thoughts on “Word for Wednesday: G is for…glaucous!

  1. Amy

    Thank you so much for the description of glaucous. Beautiful quotes. I really like the photo, the blue sea and the beautiful grey heron was there enjoying the solitude. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. jenny Post author

      Thank you Amy. I’m so glad you liked it. I particularly love writing them, so it always makes my day when people like these Word for Wednesday posts!

      Like

      Reply

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