Fecund is one of my favourite words. It means: fertile, fruitful, reproduction, prolific, rich, pregnant. Juicy word, eh?
I remember clearly where I found the word fecund. I was seventeen or eighteen. We were studying David Herbert Lawrence’s The Rainbow for A Level Literature at Princethorpe College, an imposing Catholic boarding school in Warwickshire.
There are, I’ve counted, at least twenty-one fecunds in The Rainbow. Here are just a few:
‘From which he came to gradually, always holding her warm and close upon him, and she as utterly silent as he, involved in the same oblivion, the fecund darkness.’
‘…he was shed naked and glistening on to a soft fecund earth, leaving behind him the hard rind of worldly knowledge and experience.’
‘…it quivered in the womb, in the hush and the gloom of fecundity, like the seed of procreation in ecstasy.’
‘…upon silence, light upon darkness, fecundity upon death, as a seed folds leaf upon leaf…’
‘the darkness above, to the fecundity and the unique mystery, to the touch, the clasp, the consummation, the climax of eternity…’
‘He aroused no fruitful fecundity in her. He seemed added up, finished.’
At the top of an oak staircase at Princethorpe, there was a small round classroom. The walls were packed bookcases of musty, roughly handled class-sets of the classics, and, in a circle beneath, there were a number of old wooden chairs with foldaway arms that served as small desks.
My class filed into this room wearing the regulation ‘clothes of the sort one would wear to an office (girls cannot wear trousers)’. We would sit facing each other, hormonally horny, generally disgusting, sex-obsessed, over-privileged teenagers that we were, and we’d read and discuss The Rainbow.
We intellectualised, analysed and philosophised, all trying to impress the members of the opposite sex who we really wanted to bed. That room sizzled; it was such a small space to be filled with so many fecund imaginations.
Presiding over us were the Wiers, husband and wife who tag-teamed teaching us Literature. Mr. Weir was a man from Liverpool in his early forties, his greying hair tousled and his clothes a little worn. With a slow John Lennon accent, he would smuggle great big dollops of socialism, atheism and existentialism into Princethorpe, especially when we studied Orwell’s 1984 (or was it Animal Farm?) later that year.
Imagine a John Lennon voice reading out all those fecunds; I used to close my eyes and drift away on it.