A Devilish, Dervish Dance . . Ye Ol’ Hokey Pokey

I received a most delightful e-mail message this morning. It warmed the cockles of my English major heart. (Mmmm . . . have you ever wondered where the cockles of one’s heart is?? I’ll tell you in a little bit.)

Here are the original lyrics for the Hokey Pokey:

Put your left foot in,
Your left foot out,
Your left foot in,
And shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey
And turn yourself around
That’s what it’s all about.

Here is the Hokey Pokey Shakespearean style:

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke.
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from heaven’s yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke — banish now thy doubt.
Verily, I say, ’tis what it’s all about.

I absolutely love this!!! Not only is it delightful to read, it also introduced me to two new words — dervish and sinistral.

Dervish (dur-vish) is a noun that has two very interesting meanings. The first is a member of any of various Muslim ascetic orders, such as the Sufis, some of which carry on ecstatic observances that include energetic dancing and whirling or vociferous chanting or shouting. It is an ecstatic devotion. That fits the description of the Hokey Pokey perfectly! NOT!

The other meaning refers to a person that possesses abundant, often frenzied energy. Sometimes children in their play are dervish. Sometimes in the morning, my husband is not dervish. (Sometimes? Hah! Never . . .)

The second new word is sinistral (sinuh-struhl) an adjective. Sinistral means pertaining to, or on the left side, left-handed. So as you see here, sinistral is refering to shaking your left foot. Next time you come across a left-handed person, you can refer to them as being sinistral. But you might want to take cover because they might think this is perjorative!

Now a little bit about the saying ‘warms the cockles of my heart.’ A cockle is the shell of a mollusc. You’ve probably heard of a cockle-shell. So, this saying indicates that the speaker is a hard-hearted person, as tough as the shell of a mollusc — and probably with lots of barnacles and moss . . . If something warms the cockles of your heart, that indicates that something softens your hard-heartedness and you are becoming a wee bit more tender hearted.

And speaking of barnacles, do you know the second meaning of this word? You probably are aware of the little marine crustaceans that attach themselves to ships and rocks. Well, it could also refer to a person or thing that clings tenaciously. If you have a friend (and that term is used most loosely here!) that sticks to you like a shadow, that person is a barnacle!

And this brings me to the close of this post. Happy dervish dancing!

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