Sunday, January 03, 2010


We saw beautiful amaryllis at Longwood Gardens, in a splendid array of colors, and I was reminded of a song: either by Thomas Campion or by anonymous, depending on which source you believe, about sweet Amaryllis, a wanton country maid.

One of my peculiarities is that I remember the words to every song I've ever heard, if they are clearly enunciated. This one goes:
I care not for these ladies
That must be wooed and prayed,
Give me kind Amarillis
The wanton country maid,
Nature art disdaineth,
Her beauty is her owne,
For when we court and kiss,
She cries forsooth let go
But when we come where comfort is
She never will say no. (and so forth)

I wish I could figure out how to include a song in this post, but it's late at night, and I can't. However, if you click on the heading you will find a lot of o songs that are available for copying.

Amaryllis is a pretty, old-fashioned name. Along with Phyllis, it is featured in a lot of old songs, because it is a musical name and sounds pretty when sung.

Why are some names for children popular while others are not? Emma, for instance, is at the top of the list of girls' names. As a name, it's just okay, nothing special. Some old-fashioned names are making a comeback, like Phoebe and Olivia, others, like Mabel and Florence, not.

Then there are the truly awful names, among them Destiny. If Destiny, why not Epiphany? If Grace, why not Hope and Charity? If Brittany, why not Bethany?

Boys' names are not quite as fanciful. Baby boys born nowadays tend to have Irish-sounding names: Brian, Kevin, Aidan; or biblical: Adam, Benjamin, Jacob. Sometimes they have the names of English kings: Henry, James, Charles, Edward.


airforcewife said...

My second daughter's name was given to her solely because my Mother-in-law hated the name.

Don't get me wrong - we liked it. We were considering it. But the fact that my MIL hated it pushed us over the edge. She wanted something Russian.

So we named our daughter Sydney.

Tat said...

afw: why is this animosity towards russians? after all, your husband is one of them (us). do you hate him, too?

miriam: I know one woman whose name is Verity. how awful.
oh, and Chastity is beyond ridiculous.

airforcewife said...

Tat - no animosity towards Russians. All four of our children have Russian middle names (not the patronymic, which my husband felt was too unwieldy).

Just animosity towards my MIL, or rather, a case study in showing her that she doesn't get to dictate every facet of life to her adult children. And I can honestly state that even other Russians find her... difficult to deal with, to put it nicely. So it's not a case of cultural misunderstanding.

Miriam - I know three Bethanys (Bethanies?) around my age. And you can add my name to the "not experiencing a resurgence" list of older names. I don't run into many people named Ruthie.

miriam said...

Nobody much is named Miriam either. Thanks for the heads-up on Bethany. I guess I'm behind on this one. Or did I mean Bethpage?

Anonymous said...

AFW: oh, that's understandable. In Russian segment of LJ there is even whole community/posting board called свекруха, or MIL (in Russian we differentiate between husband's mother and wife's. This one is about husband's). The stories girls share there will boil your blood!

Miriam and beautiful and distinctive. By the time I graduated my first college, back in Russia, I had counted 14 close acquaintances with my name. In every class I had to be called by last name, since there were at least 3 more Tatyanas there. Oh, what a cruel fate! *stares at the skies with melancholic expression*