Sunday, April 29, 2012


There are many Ouses in England, and consequently much debate about the meaning of the word. The source is generally supposed to be usa, the Celtic word for water, but I favoured the argument, [Sussex] being [a] region of Anglo-Saxon settlement, that here it was from the Saxon word wāse, from which derives also our word ooze, meaning soft mud or slime; earth so wet as to flow gently. Listen: ooooze. It trickles along almost silently, sucking at your shoes. An ooze is a marsh or swampy ground, and to ooze is to dribble or slither. I liked the slippery way it caught at both earth's facility for holding water and water's knack for working through soil.
-- from To The River by Olivia Laing

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