Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dictionary of Newfoundland English: water pups in a poem by Mary Dalton

The following entry is from the Dictionary of Newfoundland English :

water pup: blister, sore or inflammation common among fishermen, whose skin is often in contact with salt water. Possibly a playful synonym of water whelp. Also attrib.
1909 BROWNE 118 Others, with bandaged hands or arms 'in a sling' are suffering from sores, deep ugly ulcers ('water-pups') that need skilled attention. 1920 WALDO 56 So many fishermen get what are called 'water-whelps' or 'water-pups,'—pustules on the forearm due to the abrasion of the skin by more or less infected clothing. C 65-4 Water pups are a form of boil [breaking] out on arms that have been rubbed by wet clothing and salt water. C 69-2 When he was fishing he never failed to use water pup chains around the wrist. These were brass chains worn to prevent the wrist and arm from being chafed by the oil or rubber coat and causing water pups which he says could be pretty bad.

Water pups appears in "Water Pups" in Merrybegot, a collection of poems by Mary Dalton, the audio edition of which was narrated by Anita Best with Patrick Boyle on trumpet and flugelhorn; published by Rattling Books in 2005.

Water Pups

On shore, to think on the water.
Once out, windshook as a rotten pine,
To see in sleep the great water bears
And go in dread of a wild weather light,
To burn with the fire of water pups

Hands full right up to the elbow

Sometimes so big two'd go into one.
To think on the yoked goats,
The rocky paths, the tilt of
The yellowbelly, junks a-crackle in the red stove,
The missus and youngsters run down from the flake.
Out on the water, to think on the shore.