Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rescue, nearly.

A photograph on another's blog (of a bookmark that I, too, have) has reminded me today of this poem, toward which I have been known (if only by myself) to turn.

Poetry to the Rescue

You must be
nearly lost
to be (if
found) nearly
                  --A. R. Ammons

And as I type it in, and as I give this writing a title, I realize that I do not know the etymology of "rescue." From where do we get this word? And so I prowl to the word's home, and this is what I find there.
rescue, v.
[a. OF. rescou-, reskeu-, etc., stem of rescoure, -cure, -keure, -corre, etc. (F. recourre), = It. riscuotere:--Rom. type *reex-cutere: see RE- and EXCUSS v.]
1. a. trans. To deliver (a person) from the attack of, or out of the hands of, assailants or enemies.
b. To liberate by unlawful force from legal custody. Also in fig. context.
2. a. To deliver (a castle, town, etc.) from siege.
b. To recover, take back by force.
3. To deliver or save (a person or thing) from some evil or harm. Also freq. without const. spec. in Bridge, to make a rescue bid.
4. refl. To save or deliver (oneself) in some respect.
5. absol. To afford deliverance or safety. rare.

re-, prefix
of Latin origin, with the general sense of ‘back’ or ‘again’

excuss, v. (obs.)
[f. L. excuss- ppl. stem of excutere, f. ex- out + quatereto shake; the vb. had also the sense of searching a person by shaking his loose robe. Cf. sense 2.]
1. trans. To shake off, cast off, get rid of. Said with reference to things material and immaterial.
2. To shake out the contents of anything; hence, to investigate thoroughly, discuss (a question or document); also, to get (the truth) from (a person).
3. Mod. Civ. Law. [Cf. OF. escosser, escousser, ‘saisir, dépouiller’ (Godef.).] To seize, take in execution (a debtor's goods).
It's that first definition of "excuss" that I like best, or maybe some combination of the first and second that makes rescue a shaking back, a casting off again, a shaking out of one's loose robe, a getting the truth back once more. To find safety and deliverance therein. To save oneself by shaking off, getting rid. And recovering, only to deliver oneself from these assailants again, later.


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