Sunday, October 16, 2011

Forty Two

requests something based on the number 42.


As  soon as I read '42', my sister, Mollee, came to mind
And melancholy thoughts about her were not far behind.
Because, you see, she was just that age, exactly, when she died,
Only three years after she had become a bride.
Here you see her, on the left, on a long-ago summer's day.
Only Richard, the little boy, and I, are alive today.
I am the child on the picture's right, sitting on an Auntie's knee,
And my cousins, John and Michael, are sitting in front of me.
My mother is holding Richard, with my father just behind.
No-one guessed on that Summer's day that fate would be unkind.
Mollee was ten years older than I was, so seemed all grown-up to me,
And we were never really close, as sisters are meant to be.
She left home when I was eight; after that I saw her rarely,
But now I'm old I often think how life treated her unfairly.
Mollee was always merry, well-loved and very kind.
And now you've quoted '42' she's very much in my mind.



From just one simple word and its foreign substitutes
It's very nearly possible to work out our language roots.
Take English, well, I say 'Thirteen', it seems a simple choice.
And other people say it in an almost similar voice.
'Trece' they say in Spanish; 'Tredici' Italians say.
In Swedish the word's 'Tretton', similar in a way.
    In Czech the word is Třináct with a lot of twiddly bits.
It's 'Trzynascie' in Polish! (Your tongue has to do the splits!)
Then there's the 'Treize' we learned in school; that's what they say in France.
And the 'TR' that those start with hasn't merely been up to chance.
I guess (and I'm  no expert) that the 'TR' signifies ' 'THREE',
The languages must have had a link! It looks that way to me!
But take a look at Icelandic ; 'Pretan' they say, I think!
And it's 'On üç'  in Turkish! They definitely lack a link.
But go to the other ends of the earth, to an isolated place
And 'tekau mā toru' are the words of the Maori race.
In Romania it's 'Treisprezece'. Much too hard for me!
In Bulgaria they say 'Тринадесет ' ! (Well at least it starts with a T!)
But my favourite of all is Norwegian! 'Treten'! You read it here!
It looks exactly like 'Three Ten' ! It's all so very clear.
Thirteen ways of saying 'Thirteen!' Tongue-twisters I am sure!
(Please don't put in a request for me to find thirteen more!)

1 comment:

Kay L. Davies said...

So sad about Mollee, Brenda. 42 is very young, a real tragedy.
Every time I have a birthday (there's one coming up in six weeks) I'm grateful to have lived as long as I have.
— K