Thanks to the Dictionary (1961)


Comens, Bruce. Apocalypse and After: Modern Strategy and Postmodern Tactics in Pound, Williams and Zukofsky. U of Alabama Press, 1995. 148-151.

Dworkin, Craig. Dictionary Poetics: Toward a Radical Lexicography. Fordham UP, 2020. 33-47.

Quartermain, Peter. “Writing and Authority in Zukofsky’s Thanks to the Dictionary.” In Scroggins (1997): 154-174. Rpt. Stubborn Poetries: Poetic Facticity and the Avant-Garde (2013): 69-86.

Sloboda, Nicholas. “Introducing the Ludic: The Poetics of Play in Louis Zukofsky’s Fiction.” English Studies in Canada 23.2 (1997): 201-215.

Twitchell-Waas, Jeffrey. “Louis Zukofsky.” Review of Contemporary Fiction 22.3 (2002): 13-20.

Watten, Barrett. “New Meaning and Poetic Vocabulary: From Coleridge to Jackson Mac Low.” Poetics Today 18.2 (1997): 147-186. Rpt. Constructivist Moment: From Material Text to Cultural Poetics (2003): 1-44.


According to Quartermain, LZ primarily worked on this “novel” from July 1932 to Dec. 1934, although he continued to do some tinkering until 16 August 1939 when he settled on the sequential order (158-159). However, as with other works from this period, it would not be until 1959 before the work partially saw print in Combustion 10 (May) and then appeared complete in the volume of his short fiction, It Was (Kyoto, Japan: Origin Press, 1961). “Song 28” (“‘Specifically, a writer of music’”) in 55 Poems (1941) is clearly part of or grew out of the Thanks to the Dictionary project (CSP 61-64), deploying a similar compositional method using the dictionary.

Journal publications of selections from Thanks to the Dictionary:

1959     from Thanks to the Dictionary. Combustion 10 (May): 8-9 [from David and Michal: from “The twelve peers of France” to “I have been outspoken” (276-277) and from “She stood among the very numerous” to “…but she had become numberless” (279-280); from David and Bath-sheba: from “An aside of Bath-sheba sitting” to “from my being here, —our love again” (281-282)].

1968     from Thanks to the Dictionary. Buffalo, NY: The Galley Upstairs Press [a broadside with two brief quotations lineated and dated 1932: from “A visitor making a visit” to “It has become visitatorial” (273) and from “My three unequal and dissimilar axes” to “let’s make it liquid” (270)]. See image.

1968     from Thanks to the Dictionary. Monks Pond 2 (Summer): 1-2 [Preface and from Young David: from “Not otherwise provided for” to “identical as their composition” (265-267)].

Thanks to the Dictionary
primarily consists of the Biblical story of David and improvisations out of the dictionary. Each section, marked off by centered asterisks, works predominantly from a single page of the dictionary, although LZ does follow up references to definitions elsewhere, picks up odd details from the dictionary, as well as interpolates some outside materials. Although Quartermain states that the choice of pages involved rolling dice (the definition for “dice” appears at 284/290 as does that for “dictionary”), it is not obvious how this might have been done, and at least in some cases, pages were clearly not chosen by chance:
for example, the first page or “Preface” (265/270), uses the first page of the dictionary, the opening paragraph of “Degrees” (284/290) contains the definition for “dictionary” and the next paragraph (“Dates! dates! dates!…”) works with the page containing “David,” and it seems unlikely pure chance would happen on the pages with “mind” or “design.”

For a discussion of LZ’s method in writing “Thanks to the Dictionary,” see Quartermain 160-163, who notes that LZ used two different dictionaries: Funk & Wagnalls Practical Standard Dictionary (1930) and Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (1917). Predominately, however, LZ used the former dictionary (for 23 of the 29 sections), whose proper title is: The Practical Standard Dictionary of the English Language (Funk & Wagnalls, 1930), abridged from the Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language, ed. Frank Vizetelly, available online here. The edition of Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 3rd. ed. (1917 printing) is online here (in using these sources from the Haiti Trust, one should be aware the word search function is not always reliable, although helpful).

In the notes below, at the beginning of each section there is a link to an image of the relevant dictionary page. Six of these images are from the actual copy of the Funk & Wagnalls dictionary LZ used. For some of the sections, the notes list the relevant words and definitions in the order LZ uses them. For the rest of the pages the reader can have their own fun and the images are taken from the online copies of the two dictionaries, which can be followed up in more detail. There is a fair copy of “Thanks to the Dictionary” at the HRC, which indicates the precise pages LZ worked from in any given section (HRC 17.3). The order of the sequence of pages used within each chapter is as follows (from Funk & Wagnalls unless marked with W indicating those pages from Webster’s):
Preface: 1
Young David: 777, 450, 342, 642, 232, 350
Thru the Eyes of Jonathan: 351, W836, 731, W255, W804, W1072, W942, W323, 266
David and Michal: 353, 440, 503, 392, 781
David and Bath-sheba: 730, 766, 78, 320
Degrees: 327, 303, 112, 1251.

Note on the text of the Collected Fiction: There are two distinct printings of the Dalkey Archive edition of Collected Fiction (1990, 1997), which effects some of the pagination, although there is no indication of the difference in the later reset printing. In both printings, Little is photostatted from the original Grossman publication (1970), while the additional stories collected as It Was were first set in a different and somewhat unsightly type, which apparently is why the latter was reset to make a more uniform looking volume in 1997. As a result, the pagination is the same for Little, but different for the other stories. In the notes below I give references to both printings, the first referring to the 1997 printing currently in print. In the paperback editions, the earlier printing has an all-white cover with a full front cover photo of LZ, while the 1997 printing has a mostly black cover with the photo of LZ reduced and cropped.

Note on the text of Thanks to the Dictionary: There are some problems with the printed text, specifically in the presentation of LZ’s six page account of the life of David redacted from the Old Testament (pages 285/291 beginning “He was ruddy” to 290/297 ending “O Absalom, my son, my son”). This entire passage should be read as one continuous block with no paragraph or other breaks. Quartermain correctly pointed out that the paragraph breaks on 286/293 are not justified by the surviving final manuscript (171). The problem evidently arose because throughout this passage LZ frequently inserts blank gaps, and when these appear at the beginning of a line, they can look like paragraph indentations, which understandably LZ’s typist or the compositor found confusing. However, LZ did mark the final two paragraphs of this passage as such (page 290/297 beginning “Famine in the days of David…” and “And he built the city round about…”), so they are correctly set off in the printed text (HRC 17.3).


Notes to Thanks to the Dictionary


265/270  And what will the writer do then, poor things: LZ’s manuscript attributes this epigraph to J.R., his friend Jerry Reisman (HRC 17.3). 

265/270  “A”…: aside from “a” being the obvious place to start a work composed with the dictionary, the opening sentences of the Preface allude to LZ’s ongoing “A”. “My sawhorses” refers to “A”-7, which LZ recognized as a breakthrough poem in terms of liberating his language from referentiality. Mention of “An” perhaps anticipates LZ’s plan to begin the later movements of “A” with “an,” which although he would not put it into practice until 1964 with “A”-14, he already had in mind as early as 1930 (see EP/LZ 80).
   This section works from the first page (A to abaft) of LZ’s Funk & Wagnalls dictionary, see image here:
a., abbr. Accepted, acre, active, adjective, afternoon, aged, alto, anonymous, answer, ante (L., before), at.
A. A. C., abbr. Anno ante Christum (the year before Christ).
a, indef. art. or adj. One; any; some; each; before a vowel, an.
aback, adv. So as to be pressed backward, as sails; backward; aloof.
a-14prefix. Not; as achromatic [<Gr. a-an-, privative].
aasvogel, n. [S. Afr. D.] A vulture.
Ab, n. The 5th month (30 days) of the Jewish year, now corresponding with part of July and of August. The 9th day of Ab is a fast-day to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, 586 B. C. and A. D. 70. The 15th day is a secular festival of doubtful origin.
Aaron’s rod, n. (Bib.), the rod cast by Aaron before Pharaoh, which became a serpent (Ex. vii, 9-15) and which later blossomed (Nums. xvii, 8). A rod with leaves sprouting from it: used as an ornament. A plant that flowers on long stems, as the goldenrod and muillen [sic. mullein].
abacus, n. 1. A reckoning-table with sliding balls. 2. Arch. A slab forming the top of a capital [Gr. abax, counting-table].
aardvark, n. A burrowing and ant-eating African mammal, about the size of the pig, with long protrusile tongue and strong, digging fore feet; ground-hog; ant-bear [< D. aarde, earth, + varken, pig].
abad, [Hind.] I. a. Peopled; cultivated. II. n. An inhabited place; a city, as in Allahabad (City of God). 
265/270 […] resists all its agents is free from iridescence, and without accidentals: from the definition for achromatic, Funk & Wagnalls page 12: achromatic, a. 1. Free from color or iridescence; transmitting pure white light, as a lens. 2. Resisting the usual staining agents. 3. Mus. Unmodulated; without accidentals [< Gr. a-, without, + chrōma, color]. LZ found  “achromatic” on page 1 under the definition for a-, see above.

265/270  David: the Biblical account of David appears intermittently throughout “Thanks to the Dictionary.” At 285-290, LZ gives a summary version of the David’s life condensed from the King James version, but elsewhere he apparently imaginatively elaborates details of his own. LZ also knew Charles Reznikoff’s verse rendering of King David’s life in By the Waters of Manhattan: An Annual (1929), see Complete Poems, Vol. I: Poems 1918-1936, ed. Seamus Cooney (Black Sparrow Press, 1978): 89-103.

Young David

266/271  Not otherwise provided for…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 777 (n.o.p. to North Dakota), see image here
266/271  sakkiyeks: this is the water-raising wheel already mentioned a couple times on this page. On the page of Funk & Wagnalls from which he is working (777), LZ found the definition of noria, n. A water-raising apparatus consisting of a large wheel having buckets on its rim: used in the Levant, Spain, etc.; introduced form ancient Persia [Sp., < Ar. nā’ōra]. The accompanying illustration has the caption: Noria (compare SAKIEH). “Sakieh” is the spelling used in Funk & Wagnalls for “sakkiyeks”:  sakieh, n. a rude water-raising device, used in Egypt, havng a wheel and chain carrying pots or buckets, and mechanism for operation by drat-animals, usually oxen (1003).
267/272  Joseph Deniker 1852 — French anthropologist…: “Deniker, Joseph (1852- ). A French anthropologist and ethnographer” (F & W 316). LZ appears to have added information from elsewhere since Deniker is best-known for his racial maps of Europe and his designation of the “Nordic” race. The word or designation “nordic” does not appear anywhere in LZ’s Funk & Wagnalls, although the word would appear on page 777 if it were included.

267/272  The spring after the winter…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 450 (flour to fluorapatite), see image here.
268/273  flow: that which flows…: when LZ sent EP some sections of The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire, the latter complained in a 6 Dec. 1932 that the text did not “flow,” to which LZ responded with this passage (see EP/LZ 137-139).
flow, n. 1. The act of flowing, or that which flows; also, a continuous stream or current. 2. The incoming of the tide. 3. The quantity, as of water, that passes through an orifice or by a given point in a given time. 4. A copious outpouring: also, any easy, gentle movement, as of speech.

268/274  Before, back to, the distyle…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 342 (distil to disunite), see image here.

269/274  La; look; O; truly;—the expression of each fact…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 642 (Kymrie to labrum), see image here.
269/274  sixth tone of the diatonic scale: “la, n. The sixth tone of the diatonic scale. [It.].” 
269/274  Le Voyage de M. Perrichon: “Labiche, Eugène Marin (1815-1888). A French dramatist: Frisette; Le voyage de M. Perrichon.

270/276   Clove and clover are on his head…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 232 (close to clump), see image here:
clove, n. A dried flower-bud of a tropical evergreen tree (the clove-tree) of the myrtle family: used as a spice.—[< Sp. clavo, < L. clavus, nail (from its shape)].
clover, n. Any one of several species of three-leaved plants of the bean family. [< AS. clæfre, trefoil].
cloud, n. 1. A mass of visible vapor or collection of watery or icy particles floating in the air at various heights; any cloud-like mass.
clough, n. A sluice for returning water to a channel after the flooding or a field or country. [Akin to Ice. klofi, ravine].
clown, n. 1. A professional buffoon; a jester. 2.  A coarse or vulgar fellow; boor.
Clotho, n. Class. Myth. The youngest of the three Fates, holding the distaff and spinning the thread of life: supposed to preside at births.
Indian clubs, bottle-shaped wooden clubs used in gymnastics.
club, n. 1. A stout stick or staff; cudgel; truncheon.
clump, v. I. t. 1. To place or plant together in a clump. II. i.To walk clumsily and noisily; tramp heavily.
clostrophobia, n. Med. A morbid condition characterized by dread of enclosed spaces.
clothier, n. One who makes or sells cloths or clothing.
cloven-footed, a. 1. Having the foot cleft or divided, as cattle. 2. Satanic; bearing the mark of the evil one.—clove-hoofed, a.
clud, n. [Scot.] A cluster; crowd; a cloud.
cloudburst, n. A sudden flood of rain, as if a whole cloud has been discharged at once.
cloudlet, n. A little cloud.
cloud, n. 2. Figuratively, something that obscures, darkens, dims, confuses, or threatens. A dimmed appearance; a spot. 4. Law. A defect; blemish; as, a cloud on a title. A great multitude; a cloud-like mass; as, “a cloud of witnesses” (Heb. Xii, 1). [<AS. clud, round mass].
clothe, v. To cover or provide with clothes; dress. [< AS. clāthian, clothes].

271/276  —So will you give me the doom-palm…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 350 (donkey to Dorothea), see image here.
doom-palm, n. See PALM. > [page 816] doom-palm, n. A species of palm of northern Africa of which the fruit has the flavor of gingerbread. dom-palm; ginger-bread tree.
dormouse, n. 1. A small Old World Squirrel-like rodent. See illus. on next page. 2. [U.S.] The common white-footed mouse. [<Ice. dorma (< L. dormio), sleep + MOUSE.]
donsie, a. [Scot.] 1. Neat; trim; as, a donsie lass
donnerd, a. [Scot.] 1. Stupid; dunderheaded.
doodle-sack, n. [Prov. Eng.] A bagpipe.
dorlack, n. [Scot.] 1. A bundle; knapsack. 2. A quiver. [Gael., < dorn, fist, + luchd, load.]
door, n. 3. Any means of avenue of exit or entrance; passageway; access: used also figuratively […] door-nail, n. A nail or stud against which a door-knocker is struck: now used chiefly in the phrase “as dead as a door-nail.” —door-sill, n. The sill or threshold of a door. —door-stane, n. [Scot.] The flagstone at the threshold of a door.
dorking, n. One of a breed of the domestic fowl, characterized by five toes on each foot and a long square form. [< Dorking, England.]
donkey, n. 1. An ass. 2. A stupid or stubborn person. [< DUN, a., with double dim. suffix.]
donna, n. 1. In Italian, a lady, 2. [D-] Lady: a title prefixed to the Christian name. [It., < L., domina, lady.]
dormitory, n. A students’ lodging-house at a school or college; also, a large room in which many persons sleep. [< L. dormitorium, < dormio, sleep.]
Don Quixote, The hero of Cervantes’s romance of that name, a travesty on chivalry written in 1605. He is a country gentleman of La Mancha, who becomes half-crazed by reading romances of chivalry and essays knight-errancy.
donzel, n. A young attendant: a page or young gallant.
dormer, n. 1. A vertical window in a small gable rising from a sloping roof, and lighting usually a bedroom. [< L. dormitorium; see DORMITORY.]
dorine, n. [F.] A small vanity box, usually of metal.
don’t, [Colloq.] Do not: a contraction admitted by the best writers, but the uncontracted forms are preferred: used also improperly for does not or doesn’t.

Thru the Eyes of Jonathan

271/277  My what a ritual!…: the first paragraph works from Webster’s Collegiate page 836 (rippler to roadster), see image here.

272/277  O he was not difficult to raise…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 351 (dorp to double), see image here.

272/278  Daedal: cunningly formed or working…: this section works from Webster’s Collegiate page 255 (daddle to damask), see image here.

273/278  The reamer reanimates reality…: this section works from Webster’s Collegiate page 804 (reality to rebellious), see image here.
273/279  Réaumur: “Reaumur, Réaumur, Of or pert. to René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur or the thermometric scale invented by him about 1730, in which 0° marks the freezing point and 80° the boiling point of water.”

273/279  A visiter making a visit…: this section works from Webster’s Collegiate page 1072 (visit to vituline), see image here.

274/279  Stereopticon: the screen…: this section works from Webster’s Collegiate page 942 (step- to stertorous), see image here.

274/289  The eland’s ejection…: this section works from Webster’s Collegiate page 323 (ejection to election), see image here.

274/280  Mind, that abstract, collective term…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 731 (mind to minimum), see image here.
mind, n. 1. An abstract, collective term for all forms of conscious intelligence, or for the subject of all conscious states; especially, the activity or faculty of knowing. 2. Any mental state of activity. (1) Any state or act of the intellect; consciousness; contemplation; consideration; thought; opinion; conclusion; as, he changed his mind. (2) The state or act of reknowing; memory; recollection; as, to bear in mind. (3) Any state or act of the feelings; mood; inclination; desire; liking; disposition or mental tendency; as, a cheerful mind; a man of strange mind. (4) Any state or act of will; choice; decision; purpose; as, to make up one’s mind. 3. The power of cognition or thought. 4. Philos. The spirit or intelligence pervading the universe: opposed to matter. 5. The intellect or reason in its normal condition; sanity. 6. A person regarded chiefly as a unity of mental powers: sometimes used collectively. [< AS. gemynd, < munan, think.]
   Syn.: brain, consciousness, disposition, instinct, intellect, intelligence, reason, sense, soul, spirit, thought, understanding. Mind, in a general sense, includes all the powers of sentient being apart from the physical factors in bodily faculties and activities; in a limited  sense, mind is nearly synonymous with intellect, but includes disposition, or the tendency toward action, as appears in the phrase “to have a mind to work.” The intellect is that assemblage of faculties which is concerned with knowledge, as distinguished from emotion and volition. Understanding is the Saxon word of the same general import, but is chiefly used of the reasoning powers: the understanding, which Sir Wm. Hamilton has called “the faculty of relations and comparisons,” is distinguished by many philosophers from reason in that “reason is the faculty of the higher cognitions or a priori truth.” Thought, the act, process, or power of thinking, is often used to denote the thinking faculty, and especially the reason. The instinct of animals is now held by many philosophers to be of the same nature as the intellect of man, but inferior and limited; yet the apparent difference is very great. “An instinct is a propensity prior to experience and independent of instruction.” Paley Natural Philosophy ch. 18. In this sense we speak of human instincts, thus denoting tendencies independent of reasoning or instruction. As the seat of mental activity, brain (colloquially brains) is often used as a synonym for mind, intellect, intelligence. Sense may be an antonym of intellect, as when we speak of the sense of bearing; but sense is used also as denoting clear mental action, good judgment, acumen; as, he is a man of sense, or, he showed good sense; sense, even in its material signification, must be reckoned among the activities of mind, but dependent on bodily functions; the mind, not the eye, really sees; the mind, not the ear, really hears. Consciousness includes all that a sentient being perceives, knows, thinks, or feels, from whatever source arising and of whatever character, kind, or degree, whether with or without distinct thinking, feeling, or willing; we speak of the consciousness of the brute or of the sage. See GENIUS; SOUL; UNDERSTANDING. —Ant.: body, brawn, brute force, material substance, matter. 
minim, n. 1. An apothecaries’ fluid measure; roughly, one drop. See MEASURE, n. 2. Mus. A half note. 3. An extremely small creature; a pigmy. 4. A down stroke in writing, as in the letter n. [< F. minime, < L. minimus, least.]
mind, v. I. t. 1. To fasten one’s mind or thoughts upon; occupy oneself with; take heed to; pay attention to; regard as of importance; note; as, to mind the signs of the times. 2. To regard with care or concern or as objectionable; care for; feel annoyance at; dislike; as, I do not mind the noise. 3. To give heed to, as one’s commands, with the purpose of obeying. 4. To give or apply oneself diligently or closely to; pay strict attention to; as, he minds his business. 5. To be cognizant or aware of; notice; perceive; as, I passed him without minding him. 6. To have charge of; see after; tend; watch; as, he was set to mind the sheep. 7. [Colloq.] To be on guard against; be wary concerning; as, mind that suspicious-looking man. 8. To cause to recall something; remind. 9. [Colloq.] To call to mind; remember: sometimes used reflexively. 10. To intend; purpose. II. i. 1. to pay attention; take notice; care; watch. 2. To be obedient. 3. To have an inclination; purpose. 4. To recollect: often used colloquially in the imperative for emphasis. —minder, n. One who looks after, watches, or attends to anything.
Minié, n. A Minié ball. [< Minié (1804-79), the inventor.] Minie. —Minié ball, a conical rifle-ball with hollow base and a plug driven in by the explosion of the charge to expand the lead and fill the grooves of the rifling.
mine, v. I. t. 1. To obtain by digging out of the earth; also, to make diggings into for ore or the like. 2. To dig into for destructive purposes; undermine; figuratively, to ruin by slow or secret means. 3. To make by digging in the earth. 4. To lay a mine or mines under; as, to mine a harbor. II. i. 1. To dig a mine; lay a military mine; engage in mining. 2. To burrow. 3. To work stealthily or insidiously. [< F. miner, < LL. mino, open a mine, drive.]
mineral jelly, see PETROLATUM.
minify, vt. 1. To make small; diminish. 2. To lessen the worth or importance of; undervalue. [< L. minor, less, + -FY.]
mine, I. pron. Belonging to me; of me; possessive of I: (1) Used independently in the predicate or in an elliptical expression, as a substitute for my with a noun; as, that book is mine. (2) Absolutely, that which I own or upon which I have a claim. II. a. My: used before a noun beginning with a vowel or h; as mine enemy; mine host. [< AS. min.]
mind-blindness, n. Same as MENTAL BLINDNESS. See under MENTAL¹. —mind-cure, n. An alleged method of healing based upon the assumption that all bodily diseases are due to abnormal conditions of mind. —mind-deafness, n. Same as MENTAL DEAFNESS. See under MENTAL¹. —mind-reader, n. One who professes and practises mind-reading. — mind-reading, n. The alleged ascertaining of the thought or purpose of some other mind, independently of the ordinary channels of the senses. 
mince-meat, n. 1. Meat chopped very fine. 2. A mixture of chopped meat, fruit, spices, etc., used in mince pie. —mince pie, a pie made of mince-meat.
mingle, vt. & vi. 1. To mix or unite together or with something else so as to form one body; blend; mix. 2. To join in intimate association or relation; bring into contact. 3. To be or become mixed, united, or closely joined; intermingle [Freq. < AS. mengan, mix.]

275/281  The boon companions feast…: for this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 266 (convictism to coost), see image here:
convive, n. A guest at a feast; boon companion. vt. To feast.
convince, vt. 1. To satisfy by evidence; persuade by argument. 2. To convict. 3. To conquer. [< L. convinco, < con-, with, + vico, conquer]. Syn. convict, persuade. One is convinced by argument or evidence addressed to the intellect; he is persuaded by appeals addressed to the affections and the will.
convolve, v. I. t. To roll together; wind around something; twist; turn. II. i. To turn or wind upon itself [< L. con-, together, + volvo, roll].—convolute, a. Rolled one part on another or inward from one side.
convolvulus, n. A twining herb with large showy trumpet-shaped flowers. [L., bind-weed].
convoy, n. 1. A protecting force accompanying property in course of transportation, as a ship at sea or a military party by land. 2. The property so accompanied, as a ship or fleet at sea or a baggage-train on land.
convolvulaceous, a. Bot. Designating a family (Convolvulaceae) of gamopetalous, chiefly climbing herbs, shrubs, or trees with alternate leaves and showy flowers—the convolvulus family—embracing about 36 genera.
convulsionary, n. 1. One subject to convulsions or fits. 2. Ch. Hist. One of a body of Jansenists given to convulsive spasms ascribed to supernatural influence emanating from the tomb of François de Paris (died 1727) at St. Médard.
cony, n. A rabbit, especially the European rabbit.
coordination, n. 1. The act of coordinating, or the state of being coordinate. 2. The combination of nervous impulses in motor centers to insure the cooperation of the appropriate muscles in a reaction.
coon-can, n. Same as CONQUIAN [a card game].
cooky, n. A small, sweet cake.
cook, v. 1. t. To prepare for food by subjecting to the action of heat, as by roasting, boiling, etc.
coom¹, n. Refuse matter, as culm, soot, or sawdust.
cooee, cooey, n. The cry of the Australian aborigines when approaching an encampment, much used in the bush by Australian colonists.
coo, II. n. A murmuring note, as of a dove.
coolie, n. An Oriental laborer or menial. [< Tamil kūli].
cool, II. a. 3. Self-controlled; self-possessed; apathetic; chilling; slighting.
cooperation, n. 1. Joint action; profit-sharing. 2. Polit. Econ. A union of laborers or small capitalists for the purpose of advantageously manufacturing, buying, and selling goods, or of pursuing other modes of mutual benefit.
convoke, vt. To call together; summon. [< L. con-, together, + voco, call]. Syn.: assemble, call, call together, collect, convene, gather, muster, summon. […] Troops are mustered; witnesses and jurymen are summoned.
convocation, n. 1. The act of convoking an assembly by summons. 2. The assembly thus convoked. 3. Ch. of Eng. An ecclesiastical body similar to a synod, but meeting only at the call of some authority; as, the Convocation of Canterbury.
coordinate, III. n. 2. Math. A member of a system of lines or angles by means of which position is determined. [< L. co-, with; and see ORDINATE, a.]
cooper¹, n. One whose business it is to make casks, barrels, etc.
coop, I. vt.  to put into a coop; confine. II. n. 1. An enclosure for small animals, as fowls or rabbits. 2. [Slang.] A jail; prison. [< L. cupa, tub].
cool, II. a. 6. Art. Suggesting a sense of coolness; said of the colors blue, green, and violet.

David and Michal

276/282   The twelve peers of France..: for this section (two paragraphs) works from Funk & Wagnalls page 353 (dout to doyen), see image here:
douzepere, n. One of the twelve peers of France, celebrated in the Charlemagne romances.
dove, duv, n. 1. A pigeon; specif., the cushat. 2. Symbolically, in ecclesiastical art and literature, the Holy Spirit. 5. A term of affection; any gentle, innocent, loving creature. [< AS. dufe].
dout, vt. To put out; extinguish. [Contr. of DO OUT].
dovetail, II. n. A manner of joining boards, timbers, etc., by interlocking wedge-shaped tenons and spaces; also, the joint so made.
dove-cot, dove-cote, n. A house for tame pigeons.
dowcet, n. A testicle of a deer. [< F. doucet, sweet, < doux, < L. dulcis, sweet].
dowf, a. [Scot.] Dull; stupid; spiritless; heavy; flat.
dowle a. [Scot.] Dull; spiritless; mournful; in poor health.
dowlas, n. A strong unbleached linen cloth.
dowry, n. 1. The property a wife beings to her husband in marriage. 2. Anciently, a reward paid for a wife. Gen. xxxiv, 13. 3. Any endowment or gift [< DOWER, n.]
dowdy, I. a. Ill-dressed; ill-fitting, and in bad taste; shabby. II. n. A Slatternly woman. [ME. doude].
doxology, n. An exultant hymn or psalm of praise to God, especially to God as triune; as, the greater doxology—Gloria in Excelsis; the lesser doxology—Gloria Patri; the long-meter doxology. The name is given also to the Trisagion, founded on Isaiah vi, 3, to the halleluiah of several of the Psalms and of Rev. xix, to metrical ascriptions of praise to the Trinity (especially the stanza beginning “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!” in Bishop Thomas Ken’s hymns for morning and evening), and sometimes to the closing words of a sermon giving praise to the triune God. [< Gr. doxa, praise, + legō, speak].
doyen, n. A dean, as of a diplomatic corps. [F.].
dowl, n. A filament of a blade of a feather; also, down or a fiber of down. [< OF. doulle, soft].
downthrow, n. The act of throwing down, or the state of being overthrown or prostrated.
downpour, n. The act of pouring down; a copious and heavy fall, as of rain.
down³, pl. Turf-covered, undulating tracts of upland; as, the South Downs in S. England.
dow², vt. To give up; endow.
downtrodden, a. Trodden under foot; oppressed.
dovekie, n. 1. A bird, a little auk (Alle alle), about 7½ inches long, black above, white below, and visiting southerly coasts in winter. 2. The black guillemot (Cepphus grylle).
downcomer, n. [Prov. Eng.] The pipe which receives the outpourings from the eaves of a roof; leader.
downright, a. 1. Straight to the point; unequivocal; plain; outspoken.

277/283  —Alright, because I am not a fish…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 440 (firkin to fissipalmate), see image here.

277/283  A division of long-legged birds and waders…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 503 (gradienter to grammar), see image here.

278/284  “I will be more vile”—you are not here…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 392 (entropy to eosoon), see image here.
278/284  “I will be more vile”: from 2 Samuel 6:22: 
“6:20 Then David returned to bless his household. And Mi’chal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself! 6:21 And David said unto Mi’chal, It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the Lord, over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord 6:22 And I will yet be more vile than thus, and will be base in mine own sight: and of the maidservants which thou hast spoken of, of them shall I be had in honour. 6:23 Therefore Mi’chal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.”
279/285  And live in those “historical processes” when “twenty years are but as one day…: these and the following quotation are from Karl Marx and appear to be suggested or evoked by:
eon, æon, n. An incalculable period of time; an age; eternity [< L. æōon, < Gr. aiōn, age].
Eos, n. Gr. Myth. The goddess of the dawn; daughter of Hyperion; the analog of the Roman Aurora.
From 9 April 1863 letter to Engels: “In such great developments twenty years are but as one day—and then may come days which are the concentrated essence of twenty years” (qtd. by Lenin, “Teachings of Karl Marx,” which LZ used in “A”.8.58.14f).
From Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, concluding sentence of Part II: “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” (trans. Samuel Moore).

279/285  She stood among the very numerous…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 781 (nude to Nunc Dimittis), see image here.
280/286   They could sing Canticles. Or, they could dispense with, “Lord, now lettest thou”—:
Nunc Dimittis, 1. The canticle of Simeon, beginning “Lord, now lettest thou” (Luke II. 29-32): so called from the first two words in the Latin version.

David and Bath-sheba

280/286   A proposal of David to Bath-sheba…: this section (first paragraph) works from Funk & Wagnalls page 730 (miller to mince), see image here.
280/287  P. Nik Yuk the historian: derived from the following entry: “Milyukov, Paul Nikolaevich (1866- ). A Russian Statesman, historian, and political leader: Russia and its Crisis.

281/287  —You were not afraid of consequences?…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 766 (negate to Nelson), see image here.
281/281  Ulotrichi: from definition of negro, n. 1. One belonging to the Ulotrichi or wooly-haired type of mankind, consisting of two families: (1) the Bushmen of South Africa, and (2) the entire Negrito family.
281/288  “I didn’t see nobody”: under the definition for double negative (Gram.), the negation of a negative: in Latin and late English the equivalent of an affirmative, but used in many languages as Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and traditional English, to intensify the negative, as in the sentence I “didn’t see nobody.”

281/288   An aside of Bath-sheba sitting…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 78 (Asciepiadean to asp), see image here.
282/288  Askja: “The largest volcano in Iceland; 4,633 ft. high; occasionally eruptive.”

283/289  —Design! —Who wants a design?…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 320 (desiderate to desperate), see image here.
Textual note: LZ’s manuscript indicates “overlap” in the sentence beginning, “Intent and purpose overleap all particulars…” is a misprint (HRC 17.3).
design, n. 1. An arrangement of forms or colors, or both, intended to be wrought out for use of ornament in or on various materials; a pattern; preliminary sketch; co-ordination of details. 2. The art of designing; artistic invention; the artistic idea as executed; original work in the graphic or plastic arts. 3. A fixed purpose of intention; scheme; plot. 4. the adaptation of means to an end; plan; scheme; contrivance; also, the object or reason; final purpose. designment.
Desmoulins, Benoit Camille (1760-1794). A French revolutionist and political writer; adherent of Danton; guillotined.
De Soto, Hernandez (1496?-1542). A Spanish explorer; discovered the Mississippi river, 1541.
bishop designate, a priest nominated, by proper authority, for a see or diocese, but not yet consecrated. 
desperato, n. A desperate character; a ruffian. [Sp.]
design [cont.], Syn.: aim, device, end, final cause, intent, intention, object, plan, project, proposal, purpose, scheme. Design refers to the adaptation of means to an end, the correspondence and coordination of parts, or of separate acts, to produce a result; intent and purpose overleap all particulars, and fasten on the end itself. Intention is simply the more familiar form of the legal and philosophical intent. Plan relates to details of form, structure, and action, in themselves; design considers these same details all as a means to an end. The plan of a campaign may be for a series of sharp attacks, with the design of thus surprizing and overpowering the enemy. A man comes to a fixed intention to kill his enemy; he forms a plan to entrap him into his power, with the design of then compassing his death: as the law can not read the heart, it can only infer the intent from the evidences of design. Intent denotes a straining, stretching forth toward an object; purpose simply the placing it before oneself: hence, we speak of the purpose rather than the intent or intention of God. It is argued that the marks of design in nature prove it the work of a great Designer. Intention contemplates the possibility of failure; purpose looks to assured success; intent or intention refers especially to the state of mind of the actor; purpose to the result of the action. Compare AIM; CAUSE; END; IDEA; MODEL; PROJECT; PURPOSE; REASON.
Desmidiaeese, n. pl. Bot. A family of minute, bright-green, unicellular, mainly solitary, fresh-water algae. The individual is usually divided into symmetrical halves or semi-cells connected by an isthmus. [< Gr. desmos, band, < deō, bind.]
despatch, etc. Same as DISPATCH, etc. 
desiderate, vt. To feel desire or need for; be in want of; miss. [< L. desideratus, pp. of desidero; see DESIRE.] —desiderative, I. a. Having, implying , or expressing desire. II. n. 1. A desideratum. 2. Gram. A derivative verb expressing desire. desideration
desire: Syn.: appetency, appetite, aspiration, concupiscence, coveting, craving, hankering. Inclination is the mildest of these terms; it is a quiet, or even a vague or unconscious tendency. Even when we speak of a strong of decided inclination we do not express the intensity of desire. Desire has a wide range, from the highest objects to the lowest; desire is for an object near at hand, or near in thought, and viewed as attainable; a wish may be for what is remote or uncertain: or even for what is recognized as impossible. Craving is stronger than hankering; hankering may be the result of a fitful and capricious appetite; craving may be the imperious and reasonable demand of the whole nature. Longing is a reaching out with deep and persistent demand for that which is viewed as now distant but at some time attainable: as, the captive’s longing for release. Coveting ordinarily denotes wrong desire for that which is another’s. Compare APPETITE; FANCY; INCLINATION. 
desicator, n. 1. One who or that which desiccates. 2. An apparatus for drying meat, vegetable, etc. 3. Chem. A glass or porcelain vessel, tightly covered, to contain substances to be dried, with an arrangemetn for absorbing the moisture.
Des Moines, n. 1. A city (pop. 126,470), capital of Iowa; seat of Drake University. 2. A river in Minnesota and Iowa; length, 500 m. to Mississippi river. —Des Moines idea, municipal commission government, including initiative, referendum, and recall, as adopted by the city of Des Moines in 1897.
designable, a. Capable of being designated; distinguishable.


284/290  Degrees: Songs of Degrees refers to Psalms 120-134, attributed to David. LZ later gathered a group of poems under the title, “Songs of Degrees” (CSP 144-152); see also “A”-12.171.13 and “A”-14.316.11-12. Funk & Wagnalls give the following definitions for degree, n. 1. One of a succession of steps, grades, or stages. 2. Relative rank in life; attainment; station. 3. Relative extent, amount, or intensity. 4. One of the three forms in which an adjective or adverb is compared; as, the positive, comparative, and superlative degrees. 5. An academical rank or title conferred by an institution of learning. 6. One remove in the chain of relationship between persons in the line of descent. 7. A subdivision of unit, as in a thermometric scale, the 360th part of a circle, as of longitude or latitude; the 90th part of a right angle; the unit-divisions marked accordingly on various instruments. 8. Alg. The power to which a quantity of number is raised. 9. Arith. In notation, a group of three figures in a number; a period. 10. Mus. A line or space of the staff. 11. A step or stair.

284/290  Thanks to the dictionary…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 327 (Diaz de la Peña to dictograph), see image here.
dictionary, n. A book containing the words of a language, or of a department of knowledge, arranged alphabetically, and usually also their spelling, pronunciation, definition, and etymology; lexicon; word-book.
dictator, n. 1. A person invested with absolute power, especially in a republic in time of emergency. 2. One who dictates or prescribes. 
diction, n. the use, choice, and arrangement of words and modes of expression. [< L. dictio(n-), < dico, say.]
dibbl(e) I. vt. To make holes in (soil) with a dibble; plant or set with a dibble. II. n. A gardeners’ pointed tool for planting seeds, settling slips, etc.
dib, vt. & vi. [Prov. Eng.] To dip; as, ducks dib in water with their bills; also, to dibble, as bait, or to pat lightly. 
dice, n. pl. 1. Bone or ivory cubes, marked on every side with black spots, from one to six, or (poker-dice) with the card-faces from nine to ace inclusive. 2. A game played with dice. [Irreg. pl. of ME. dee].
dicast, n. One of the citizens selected annually in ancient Athens to sit in the law-courts: resembling a modern juryman, with functions of a judge. [< Gr. dikastìs, < dikè, justice.]
dicrotism, n. Med. An abnormal pulse-beating, showing a double pulse-beat to each systole of the heart. [< Gr. dikrotos, < di- (see DI-¹) + krotos, beat].
dictate, I. vt. & vi. 1. To declare with authority; command; prescribe.
dicephalous, a. Having two heads. [< Gr. díkephalos, < di-, DI-¹, + kephalē, head.]
diazin, diazine, n. Org. Chem. Any member of a cyclic class of compounds, the ring of which contains two nitrogen and four carbon atoms. [< DI-¹ + AZO.]
Dicentra, n. Bot. 1. A genus of low, delicate, perennial herbs, with a raceme of pretty nodding rose-colored or yellow heart-shaped flowers; the bleeding-heart (D. spectabilis) and Duchman’s-breeches (D. Cucullaria) are well known. 2. A plant of this genus. [< Gr. díkentros, with two points.]
dichroism, n. 1. The property of showing different colors when viewed in different directions, exhibited by doubly refracting crystals. 2. The property of being differently colored in different degrees of concentration: shown by some solutions. [< Gr. dichroos, two-colored, < di-, DI-, + chroa, color.]
dichromate, n. 1. Having either of two colors. 2. Zool. Having two color-phases: said of certain birds and insects, etc., that, apart from changes due to age or sex, exhibit a coloration differing from the normal. 3. Psychol. Affected with blue-, green-, or red-blindness. 
Dick, n. A diminutive of Richard.—dick, n. [Local, U.S.] A bunting (Spiza americana) of the Mississippi Valley, distinguished by it black throat and lively call.
Possibly an allusion to LZ’s friend Basil Bunting here as well.
dickey, dicky II. n. 1. A detachable linen-shirt front; false bosom. 3. A pinafore or bib 5. A donkey: a small bird.
Dicky is how LZ refers to his friend Richard or Ricky Chambers, who is elegized in “A”-3; the last line of that movement (“A”-3.11.2) also makes the connection between dicky and a small bird. 
dicotyledon, n. A plant having two cotyledons or seed-leaves; a member of the class Dicotyledones.
dibasic, a. Chem. 1. Containing two atoms of hydrogen replaceable by a base of basic radical, as sulfuric acid. 2. Of or derived from such an acid: said of salts.
dicker, I. vt. & vi., [U.S.] To make a petty trade; barter; haggle. 
Dickson City, A borough in E. Pennsylvania;  pop., 11,050.

284/291   Dates! dates! dates!…: for this paragraph, the following definitions are from Funk & Wagnalls dictionary page 303 (date to day), see image here. It might be relevant to LZ’s opening that there are three entries for “date” on this page, which also has the definition for David, Bib. Son of Jesse; slayer of Goliath; king of Israel; writer of Psalms:
date², n. 1. An oblong, sweet, fleshy fruit, enclosing a single hard seed; an important article of food in N. Africa and in W. Asia, whence it is exported in large quantities. [OF., < L. dactylus, finger (from its shape)].
datto, n. [P. I.] 1. A chief of a Mohammedan tribe. 2. The headman of a barrio. [< Moro, datto, lord].
date¹, n. 2. The time of some event; a point of time. [F., < L. datus, pp. of do, give].
dauphin, dauphin, n. The eldest son of a king of France; in abeyance since 1830. [F., orig. dolphin; < L. delphinus].
dative case, a. 2.  Law. (1) That may be disposed of at will. (2) That may be removed; removable as opposed to perpetual; a dative officer.
dauber, n. 1. One who or that which daubs; one who paints coarsely or cheaply. 2. A brush to put blacking on shoes; a dabber.
daubery, n. 1. Daubling. 2. Trickery.
daub, n. 1. A sticky application. 2. A smear or spot. 3. A poor, coarse painting. 4. An instance or act of daubing.
daughter, n. 1. A female child or descendant.
daughter cell, a cell divided from the mother cell. 
datum, n. A known, assumed, or conceded fact; number, quantity, or point: used chiefly in the plural. [L. thing given].
D’Avenant, Sir William (1606-1668). An English poet laureate.
284/291   Knowledge is but Sorrow’s spy. The lark takes this window for the east: from poems by Sir William Davenant (or D’Avenant) (1606-1668), poet, playwright, godson of Shakespeare, Poet Laureate and adapter of several of Shakespeare’s plays, including a collaboration with John Dryden on The Tempest. The first line will be picked up again with further quotations from Davenant at the bottom of 290. LZ’s text is likely A Treasury of Seventeenth Century English Verse from the Death of Shakespeare to the Restoration (1616-1660), ed. H.J. Massingham (Macmillan, 1919), which LZ owned from his student days:
From “To a Mistress Dying” (final stanza spoken by a Philosopher):
But ask not bodies doomed to die
     To what abode they go;
Since Knowledge is but Sorrow’s spy,
     It is not safe to know.
From “Morning” (more commonly known simply as “Song”; first stanza):
The lark now leaves his wat’ry nest,
   And climbing shakes his dewy wings,
He takes this window for the east,
   And to implore your light, he sings
Awake, awake! the morn will never rise,
Till she can dress her beauty at your eyes.

285/291   He was ruddy, cunning in playing…: through 290/297 gives the Old Testament account of David’s life, radically condensed but the text is all directly taken from the King James version of I Samuel 16 – I Kings 2, with the addition of further details on 290/297 (from “All the sons of David…Solomon yet young, the work great”) taken from the alternative account of David’s life in I Chronicles (3:9, 11:8, 14:13, 15:1, 15:16, 15:22, 22:4, 23:5, 25:8, 29:1).

290/297   Singers with instruments of musick, psalteries…: this and the following sentence from I Chronicles 15:16 and 15:22 appear slightly abridged as the first of ten chronologically arranged quotations on the aims and scope of poetry entitled “Other Comments” appended to the original version of “A Statement for Poetry (1950)” (Prep+ 223-224); the latter qtd. “A”-12.145-22-24.

290/298   Knowledge is but sorrow’s spy…: this paragraph consists entirely of quotations from the poems and songs of Sir William Davenant or D’Avenant; see note at 284 where the first and last quotations are identified:
From “Wake all the Dead! What ho! What ho!” (or “Viola’s Song” from The Law Against Lovers (1673), an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure):
Wake all the dead! what ho! what ho!
How soundly they sleep whose pillows lie low,
They mind not poor lovers who walk above
On the decks of the world in storms of love. […]
From ”To the Queen, Entertained at Night by the Countess of Anglesey,” lines 9-16:
You, that are more than our discreeter fear
Dares praise, with such full art, what make you here?
Here, where the summer is so little seen,
That leaves (her cheapest wealth) scarce reach at green;
You come, as if the silver planet were
Misled a while from her much injured sphere,
And, t’ease the travails of her beams to-night,
In this small lanthorn would contract her light.

291/298  There was a horse, its face bauson…: this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 112 (battalion to bawty), see image here.
291/299  It was that one morning springing shining out of the earth…: from 2 Samuel 23:4, from the dying David’s last words. On the preceding page 290/297 this verse is given more completely: “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. “

292/299   Turn, turn, the leaf…: for this section works from Funk & Wagnalls page 1251 (voile to voluntary), see image here:
volti, imper. [It.] Mus. Turn: a direction to turn the leaf.
volplane, Aero. I. vi. To swoop toward the earth from a height at an angle much greater than the gliding angle. II. n. A downward flight at such an angle [< L. rolo, fly, + -plane (in AEROPLANE)].
volant, a. 1. Passing through the air; flying, or able to fly. 2. Characterized by lightness and quickness. 3. Her. Flying, as a bird or bee. [F., ppr. of voler (< L. volo), fly].
volcanic glass, same as OBSIDIAN.
obsidian, n. A glassy volcanic rock, usually black and having the composition of rhyolite or trachyte, but containing few or no individualized crystals. [< Obstus, the discoverer]. [from Funk & Wagnalls page 786].
volcano, n. An opening in the earth’s surface surrounded by an accumulation of ejected material, forming a hill or mountain, from which heated matter is or has been ejected: known in the former case as active, and in the latter as dormant or extinct. [It., < L. Vulcanus, VULCAN].
volume, n. 1. A collection of sheets of paper bound together; a book; anciently, a written roll, as of papyrus of vellum. 2. Something of a swelling form; coil; fold or turn. 3. A large quantity; a considerable amount; space occupied, as measured by cubic units, that is, cubic centimeters, cubic feet, etc. The volume of a body is equal to its mass divided by its density, or V = M/D.4.  Math. The amount of space included by the bounding surfaces of a solid. 5. Mus. Fulness or quantity of sound or tone. [F., < L. volumen, < volutus: see VOLUBLE].
volt¹, n. The unit of electromotive force or difference of potential; that difference of potential which, when steadily applied to a conductor whose resistance is one ohm, will produce a current of one ampere. [After A. Volta, Italian electrician].
voltaic pile, same as GALVANIC PILE.
galvanic pile, a number of disks of two metals, one more oxidizable than the other, placed alternatively, and having between them paper moistened with acids: used by Volta in his electric experiments. [from Funk & Wagnalls page 479].
vole¹, n. In some card-games, as écarté, a winning of all the tricks in a deal; hence, the entire range. [F., < voler; see VOLANT].
volition, n. 2. Psychol. The faculty of will by which the powers are directed toward the attainment of a chosen end.
voltigeur, n. One who vaults; a tumbler; in the French army, an infantry rifleman. [F., < voltiger, vault. < It. volteggiare, < volta; see VOLT].
volt², n. 1. In horse-training, a gait in which the horse moves partially sidewise round a center with the head turned out; a circular tread. 2. In fencing, a sudden leap to avoid a thrust. [< F. volte, wheel, < It. volta, turn, < volvo, turn].
Volhynian fever, an anomalous five-day fever of eastern Europe.
Volapük, n. A universal language, invented in 1879 by Johann M. Schleyer (1832- ) of Constance, Baden. [< Volapük, Volapük, < vol, world (< WORLD), + –a– (connecting vowel) + pük, speech, < SPEAK].
volta, n. [It.] Mus. Turn; time: in phrases.
time, n. 9. Mus. (2) The duration of comparative value of a tone. [from Funk & Wagnalls page 1174].
volumetric, a. Physics, Of or pertaining to measurement of substances by comparison of volumes.
turn, n. 9. Mus. An embellishment formed by playing a note, the note above it, and the semitone below it. [from Funk & Wagnalls page 1208].
voix celeste, an organ-stop.