Thursday, 21 April 2011
The Land of the Nicotinians
Posted by M.H. Forsyth
A nicotian is, according to the OED, a rare and poetic word for a smoker of tobacco; as in Oliver Wendell Holmes lines:
It isn't for me to throw stones, though, who have been a Nicotian a good deal more than half my days. Cigar-stump out now, and consequently have become very bitter on more persevering sinners.
Indeed, flicking around the nico bit of the OED you find Nicotinian, which means approximately the same thing ("lapped in nicotinean Elysium"), and even a goddess called Nicotia, whose forbears were helpfully delineated by James Russell Lowell thusly:
Now the kind nymph to Bacchus born
By Morpheus' daughter, she that seems
Gifted upon her natal morn
By him with fire, by her with dreams,
Nicotia, dearer to the Muse
Than all the grape's bewildering juice,
We worship, unforbid of thee;
And, as her incense floats and curls,
In airy spires and wayward whirls,
Or poises on its tremulous stalk
A flower of frailest revery,
So winds and loiters, idly free...
It's enough to leave you fuming. I hereby demand that every sign with Designated Smoking Area written on it must be torn down and replaced with one saying Shrine to Nicotia or Land of the Nicotineans.