Carl Gustaf af Leopold et al

The street names around my flat please me; on my side of the road, Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Verner von Heidenstam, Stig Dagerman, Bengt Lidner, Carl Gustaf af Leopold, Frederika Bremer, Lars Värnlund and Elin Wägner are all there. The other side towards Gamla Uppsala is appropriately all Nordic mythology . Baldur, Idun and Mimer have their roads as well as Valhalla and more. Refreshing with resonant road names that stimulate learning rather than the trite banality of berry or sport names. Värnlund was a new discovery for me. I was impressed that a rather conservative city had the breadth of vision to honour Värnlund, not exactly born with a silver spoon in his mouth. My latest exploration has been Leopold. I knew he wasn’t the monster of the Congo but not much else. Carl Gustaf af Leopold 1756-1829 is perhaps mainly famous as a poet, advocate of French classicism and the Alexandrine at a time when the steamier enthusiasm of Romanticism was waxing in the shape of the journal Phosphorus among others. Not surprisingly, Leopold was involved in various literary feuds, which at some point I’ll try and get my head around but not nowpoint. He was also active as an academy member and in standardising Swedish spelling.

Rather too prone to use his pen to embellish various royals for my taste but an interesting figure none the less.

And he led to me looking up the Alexandrine meter (with a sigh as I can never get poetic meters sorted out despite parroting about iambic pentameters in youthful exams). Googling Alexandrine led me to a pic by Jehan de Grise (1338-1344) of Alexander the Great in a glass diving bell.

Diving bells seem somehow post-industrial revolution or just before, nothing I associate with the fourteenth century. Also curious what Alexander was up to and interesting with de Grise’s choice of topic when art was full of martyred saints rather than the glories of Rome and Greece.

I´ve also learnt the collective word for a group of cats, which is a clowder. Apparently from the early nineteenth century thought to be from the dialect word cludder, which in turn is related to clutter.

And now I know the meaning of the American slang term “cat’s paw” meaning someone you use to do something bad. That feels like a gap in my education where folk might ask me “Didn’t you know that term?”. And, after a fashion I do or at least I’ve seen it before and not bothered to react.

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