November 19th, 2013


Tuesday Word: marge

The first stanza of Robert W. Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee":

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Were I to depend solely on my literary analysis skills, I would conclude that marge was an emotionally distant (major theme of this poem: everything in the Yukon is cold) woman who read too much e. e. cummings and ended up being used as a funeral pyre for some unlucky prospector. Sadly this is one of those rare instances in which I regret having the internet at my disposal in addition to my apparently lackluster education, as the truth is far, far more boring: a marge is simply a margin, or the edge of something. Or, duller still, an abbreviated form of "margarine."

It is some consolation that, in rare instances, marge may also mean to note in the margins of a page. Okay, not so much! Good thing this one has a built-in back-up consolation: I totally didn't have to cremate anyone today.