A wreck of HesperisFriday, June 4, 2010
Some time ago, we posted a small collection of what we later decided to call "terms of vegery." We have just released a book-length version -- called, appropriately enough, Terms of Vegery -- as a Kindle book. The cover looks like this:
And here is a little text and some sample photos from the original posting (which have evolved somewhat during the past two years):
In 1968, James Lipton (yes, that James Lipton) published An Exaltation of Larks, an utterly delightful collection of terms of venery -- that is, the words used to describe groups of animals (such as "a pride of lions," "a gaggle of geese," or "a murder of crows"). He also included a set of what we might call venereal puns, supposedly uttered by several professors upon noticing a group of prostitutes. One called them "a jam of tarts," another, "an essay of Trollope's," another, "an anthology of prose," and yet another, "a flourish of strumpets." Lipton continued in a similar vein -- but such pleasures should be reserved for people who still read actual books.
Putting such illuminating diversions aside, my wife Karen and I were wondering why there are so many collective terms for members of the animal kingdom, yet so few for plants. There are only a few, so we (and various friends and relatives we managed to rope in) set out to even the score a bit.
This was the term that started everything:
A Flatulence of Beans
An Eddy of Currants
A Nodding of Elders
A Wrath of Grapes
An Alpert of Herbs
A Crime of Passionflowers