2

From Browning's Childe Roland:

What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guess’d what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch ’gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare

What is the meaning of "crutch 'gin"? I know the meaning of crutch, but what does 'gin mean here? "Going"? "Again"? These do not seem to fit.

  • 1
    "What crutch [would] begin [to] write my epitaph" -- the narrator imagines the "hoary cripple" writing his epitaph in the dusty road with his crutch. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 12 '16 at 14:10
  • @StoneyB - thank you, I would never have guessed! Case closed. – CowperKettle Jun 12 '16 at 14:11
  • @StoneyB - it's a pity he did not come up with a clearer wording. Would any native speaker understand this 'gin right away? – CowperKettle Jun 12 '16 at 14:19
  • 3
    'gin is a common abbreviation in Elizabethan English; Browning was immersed in the Elizabethan stage, and could count on his readers to recognize it. The ellipses are pretty ordinary. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 12 '16 at 15:22
1

"What crutch [would] begin [to] write my epitaph" -- the narrator imagines the "hoary cripple" writing his epitaph in the dusty road with his crutch.

'gin is a common abbreviation in Elizabethan English; Browning was immersed in the Elizabethan stage, and could count on his readers to recognize it. The ellipses are pretty ordinary.

(Kudos to StoneyB)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.