It’s Poetry at Work Day, and I find myself thinking about names in the workplace.
I’ve been long fascinated with the names of characters in the works of Charles Dickens. Many of them are descriptive of the characters they represent. Some he made up out of whole cloth. And some were borrowed, or stolen, from the names of real people. “Pickwick,” for example, came from the name of the owner of a coach firm in Bath. “Oliver Twiste” was the name of a real person. Dickens borrowed, and sometimes barely disguised, the names of friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and people mentioned in newspapers.
The names of these characters often contain their own poetry. While reading a paper from 1917 on the origins of the names of Dickens’s characters, I began to think about the names, and the poetry of names, of people I’ve known over more than four decades of work life. My own last name likely started life a millennium or two ago to differentiate a father from a son, or an older and younger brother.
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