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There is this beautiful poem I heard on "The Fall" (british tv show).

There was a man of double deed,
Who sowed his garden full of seed;
When the seed began to grow,
'Twas like a garden full of snow;
When the snow began to melt,
'Twas like a ship without a belt;
When the ship began to sail,
'Twas like a bird without a tail;
When the bird began to fly,
'Twas like an eagle in the sky;
When the sky began to roar,
'Twas like a lion at my door;
When my door began to crack,
'Twas like a stick across my back;
When my back began to smart,
'Twas like a penknife in my heart;
And when my heart began to bleed,
'Twas death, and death, and death indeed.

What does "man of double deed" mean? I guess it has some negative connotation, like a person leading double life, being double-faced, hypocritical, etc. But maybe I'm wrong.

The assumption is based on the fact that the poem is cited by the double-faced antagonist of the show.

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  • it just mean two deeds, and it's used for rhyming here. I don't think one can ascribe a particular meaning to it. As for belt, I haven't heard of a ship's belt and I'm rather attuned to nautical meanings....
    – Lambie
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:05
  • All I can think of is a safety belt? In modern terms, something by which you hook yourself via a line to a mast or other part of a sailing ship.
    – Lambie
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:12
  • @Lambie, the poem is couple of centuries old, there probably was some particular meaning for the belt, aside from something to hook yourself to a mast, because ship without that kind of belt would be completely alright I guess :) Thanks for the resopnse though!
    – r2r23
    Mar 23, 2018 at 17:30
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    ...note that there's an alternative (probably, earlier) version of the poem that starts with A man of words and not of deeds \ Is like a garden full of weeds. Mar 23, 2018 at 17:31
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    Belt armor is a layer of heavy metal armor plated onto or within the outer hulls of warships, typically on battleships, battlecruisers and cruisers, and aircraft carriers. The belt armor is designed to prevent projectiles from penetrating to the heart of a warship. When struck by an artillery shell or underwater torpedo, the belt armor either absorbs the impact and explosion with its sheer thickness and strength, or else uses sloping to redirect the projectile and its blast downwards. The main armor belt covers the warship from its main deck down to some distance below the waterline.
    – djna
    Mar 24, 2018 at 5:07

1 Answer 1

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According to a brief discussion on another question (What means double deed?) "double deed" is a contraction of "double indeed".

When we wish to imply a strong assertion we may use the word indeed, it's can have a slightly archaic feel

Is he a reliable witness?

Indeed not!

We might strongly assert an intention

Indeed I will be (performing some action)

or determination not to do something

Indeed I not do that

From that a rather informal, perhaps child-like, stronger assertion

Indeed and indeed and double indeed I will not (perform action)

And this contracts to

Deed and deed and double deed ...

An example of this formulation being given in

In Adventures of Tom Sawyer, there is a dialogue going on between Tom and Becky:

Yes I do, indeed I do. Please let me.

You'll tell.

No I won't—deed and deed and double deed won't.

You won't tell anybody at all.

Also ships do have belts, it's a term for reinforced armour of warships.

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    Tom Sawyer has nothing to do with this, it's a different case. Do you realy think "double deed" in this poem = "double indeed"?
    – r2r23
    Mar 24, 2018 at 11:40
  • Indeed I do. The man who is doubly assertive of his position, but may of course be unreliable.
    – djna
    Mar 24, 2018 at 12:45
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    Double deed I don't!
    – user951
    Mar 26, 2018 at 9:35
  • [What does double deed mean?]
    – Lambie
    Dec 12, 2019 at 0:38
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    A man of double indeed makes even less sense. Dec 14, 2020 at 8:38

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