My post last week about the American lexicographer Noah Webster prompted reader Josh Wallaert of the University of Minnesota to suggest that I check out his new blog, Webster's Daily. I did, and was enchanted. Every day Josh posts a "found poem" from the first (1828) edition of Webster's American Dictionary. You may not think of dictionary definitions as poetry, but that's what these entries--many of them referring to obsolete usages--are. Indeed, no less an authority than Sir James Murray, first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, called Webster "a born definer of words"--even better than Samuel Johnson.
A few examples from Webster's Daily:
Growl, n. The murmur of a cross dog.
Badger, n. A quadruped of the genus Ursus, of a clumsy make, with short, thick legs, and long claws on the fore feet. It inhabits the north of Europe and Asia, burrows, is indolent and sleepy, feeds by night on vegetables, and is very fat.
Its skin is used for pistol furniture; its flesh makes good bacon, and its hair is used for brushes to soften the shades in painting. The American badger is called the ground hog, and is sometimes white.