“What does yclept mean?” he queried,
peering from A Boy’s King Arthur,
published in 1910. He was eight and a half,
an avid fan of the Knights
of the Round Table, engrossed
in every book he could find.
This one was filled with antiquated
language, and as always,
I found a teaching moment.
Grabbing my two-volume set
of the Oxford English Dictionary,
I opened the tiny drawer and pulled out
the magnifying glass with a flourish. He sighed.
“Ah, it’s the past participle of clepe,”
I crowed. Which of course necessitated
opening Volume 1, to the C’s.
“Mom,” he complained, giving the word
several extra syllables of moaning O’s.
“It’s archaic, look!” I had him read
aloud its meaning: to name or call.
He was exasperated. “I knew that
by context!” He showed me the sentence.
“The sword yclept Excalibur…”
I savored our shared
while he privately vowed to keep
his questions to himself
and relish uninterrupted reading.