: to shorten by or as if by cutting off


“Apparently, a federal law … requires printed credit card receipts truncate not only the credit card number, but also the expiration date.” — Jack Greiner, The Cincinnati Enquirer, 28 Aug. 2016

“Google’s own URL shortener service … instantly truncates the URL you’re visiting and copies the new address to the clipboard for use anywhere.” — Eric Griffith,, 23 Aug. 2016

Did You Know?

Truncate descends from the Latin verb truncare, meaning “to shorten,” which in turn can be traced back to the Latin word for the trunk of a tree, which is truncus. Incidentally, if you’ve guessed that truncus is also the ancestor of the English word trunk, you are correct. Truncusalso gave us truncheon, which is the name for a police officer’s billy club, and the obscure word obtruncate, meaning “to cut the head or top from.”

Quantum vobiscum

Is ” never use cliches” a cliche?
Is using short words  like having a  short temper?
Is  using multiple Latin/Greek  derived words  like  quantum  or   domina vobiscum something you are not  non-au fait   with, in every day patois?
Is it wrong to swear in front of women, especially to swear blind?
Do you parade your knowledge of irrational numbers to impress new acquaintances  only to find they have disappeared?
Whom should I strike whilst the iron is hot?
Why is there many a peignoir twixt cup and lip?
Who wants a bird in their hand?
What work is enough for many hands to make light of?
Why would a stone want moss?
You can sometimes judge a book by its cover.If it is a bad design that is a sign of  poverty  of spirit
Can broth really spoil when the kitchen is full of cooks?
Is idleness bad? If Hitler  had been idle then Germany would have been less evil

Rosa Benchez fails to buy a loaf

Rosa leaped out of  her deeply sprung bed  and ran into the bathroom because she was meeting an old friend in Cafe Zero.What to wear< she wondered as the weather was “in between” seasons.She settled  n  khaki trousers which  she had bought for 12/6 in  the market and a long black and white tunic and some black trainers in case the old friend turned amorous.
Sitting at the table, she applied “diego  salla paqlma “foundation  to her face without looking into the mirror plus a littl pink rose lipstick..She put a long necklace on and several big  faux jewel rings.Snatching a bite from a loaf she hastened to the bus stop just in time to  miss the bus.As she sat waiting she told herself,well,it’s fresh air.
As Rosa walked to the bank she suddenly remembered she had not brought her cards.She went into Cafe Zero.
There was James sitting reading the Oldie.She crossed the room and asked him for a shilling to pay for her coffee.
You sit down,dear girl, he murmured.Let me get it
It’s a good thing it’s only coffee ,she thought.Nowadays men do  not expect to pay the whole bill nor do many women want them to do.She gazed around the crowded cafe where smiling people speaking many different languages chatted amiably.
James came back. I left my cards in the cat’s basket,she told him gratefully.
Does Emily like to play with them? he joked.
No,I just thought thieves would not look there,she carefully informed him.It’s hard to know where to hide them.I suppose I could cancel all except one.But then I might decide to buy a new computer or TV  or even  a camera.
Are you into cameras, he whispered roguishly.
Not in a big way,she smiled.I know nothing of the technology so I just use intuition and gut feelings.How about you?Are you a techno whiz? she asked admiringly
Yes.I know more than anyone on earth,he  said  narcissistically
That is either a joke or you are boasting  when you cannot know  whether others know more.Mind you,your photos are very good.
Would you like to come to my apartment and see my pictures, he whispered shyly?
No,I hate looking at other people’s photos, she said decidedly and cruelly.
I could take some of you, he offered  kindly.
Rosa thought of her underwear which was mauve with little cats all over it.I wonder if he means erotic photos, she said to herself.This set was quite old and would not charm the birds off the trees., nor the stripes off the bees.
Thank you but it’s against my religion,she answered cleverly.
What,having your portrait done ?
Yes, it’s against the First Commandment.
Thou shalt have no  other gods before me, she rattled off
Well ,no one else seems to think that way.Are you Jewish? he enquired with empathy.
Mind your own business, she admonished him.We hardly know each other.
Well,if you won’t tell me that we’ll never get to know each other.And already I love you a lot, he informed her neatly
So you love a woman you don’t know, she joked.
Well,I can  tell from your face what you are like, he admitted.You have a kind  and vivacious expression which appeals to my poetic heart.
How about my poetic art? she questioned him.
I  have not read any of your poems, he told her with  breathtaking frankness.
I’ll read you one.,she told him ruthlessly.

A man who never pays a compliment
Will never pay the bills or half the rent
So keep away from men who prey
If need be ,go and live in Rome or Ghent

A man who’s always late  at a venue
Is sending a clear signal  out to you.
He cares so little for your time
He  knows not that it is a crime~
So if you love him you will  turn royal  blue.

How do you like that  she asked James calmly.But when she looked up from her iphone he had disappeared.Maybe he’s gone to the loo, she thought but the man behind the counter came over and said, your friend ran out and he’s not paid for the coffee and cream cakes.
I didn’t have  any cream cakes, she cried.
Well, he did, the man said  angrily.
Legally I don’t have to pay but I will. Luckily she had found a £100 pound note in her handbag which just about paid the bill.
Thanks so much the man said gratefully
As she walked  home via the church yard she thought ruefully
I only wanted a companion
But now he won’t even be a friend.I’ll go home and wash the cat’s blankets and iron her hair ribbons.These little tasks and a  cup of tea are a good way to recover from life’ shocks.Some people like to  meditate whilst others enjoy a few murderous thoughts
Each to their own



The Romantics

Dr Stephanie Forward explains the key ideas and influences of Romanticism, and considers their place in the work of writers including Wordsworth, Blake, P B Shelley and Keats.
Today the word ‘romantic’ evokes images of love and sentimentality, but the term ‘Romanticism’ has a much wider meaning. It covers a range of developments in art, literature, music and philosophy, spanning the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The ‘Romantics’ would not have used the term themselves: the label was applied retrospectively, from around the middle of the 19th century.In 1762 Jean-Jacques Rousseau declared in The Social Contract: ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.’ During the Romantic period major transitions took place in society, as dissatisfied intellectuals and artists challenged the Establishment. In England, the Romantic poets were at the very heart of this movement. They were inspired by a desire for liberty, and they denounced the exploitation of the poor. There was an emphasis on the importance of the individual; a conviction that people should follow ideals rather than imposed conventions and rules. The Romantics renounced the rationalism and order associated with the preceding Enlightenment era, stressing the importance of expressing authentic personal feelings. They had a real sense of responsibility to their fellow men: they felt it was their duty to use their poetry to inform and inspire others, and to change society.


When reference is made to Romantic verse, the poets who generally spring to mind areWilliam Blake (1757-1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) andJohn Keats (1795-1821). These writers had an intuitive feeling that they were ‘chosen’ to guide others through the tempestuous period of change.This was a time of physical confrontation; of violent rebellion in parts of Europe and the New World. Conscious of anarchy across the English Channel, the British government feared similar outbreaks. The early Romantic poets tended to be supporters of the French Revolution, hoping that it would bring about political change; however, the bloody Reign of Terror shocked them profoundly and affected their views. In his youth William Wordsworth was drawn to the Republican cause in France, until he gradually became disenchanted with the Revolutionaries.

Painting of the storming of the Bastille, 1789

Painting of the storming of the Bastille, 1789

Depiction of the storming of the Bastille, Paris – the event that triggered the French Revolution.

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Copyright: © De Agostini Picture Library

The imagination

The Romantics were not in agreement about everything they said and did: far from it! Nevertheless, certain key ideas dominated their writings. They genuinely thought that they were prophetic figures who could interpret reality. The Romantics highlighted the healing power of the imagination, because they truly believed that it could enable people to transcend their troubles and their circumstances. Their creative talents could illuminate and transform the world into a coherent vision, to regenerate mankind spiritually. In A Defence of Poetry(1821), Shelley elevated the status of poets: ‘They measure the circumference and sound the depths of human nature with a comprehensive and all-penetrating spirit…’.[1] He declared that ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. This might sound somewhat pretentious, but it serves to convey the faith the Romantics had in their poetry.

Manuscript of P B Shelley’s ‘The Masque of Anarchy’

Manuscript of P B Shelley's 'The Masque of Anarchy'

P B Shelley’s manuscript of ‘The Masque of Anarchy’, 1819, was a reaction of furious outrage at the Peterloo Massacre. An avowedly political poem, it praises the non-violence of the Manchester protesters when faced with the aggression of the state.

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The marginalised and oppressed

Wordsworth was concerned about the elitism of earlier poets, whose highbrow language and subject matter were neither readily accessible nor particularly relevant to ordinary people. He maintained that poetry should be democratic; that it should be composed in ‘the language really spoken by men’ (Preface to Lyrical Ballads [1802]). For this reason, he tried to give a voice to those who tended to be marginalised and oppressed by society: the rural poor; discharged soldiers; ‘fallen’ women; the insane; and children.Blake was radical in his political views, frequently addressing social issues in his poems and expressing his concerns about the monarchy and the church. His poem ‘London’ draws attention to the suffering of chimney-sweeps, soldiers and prostitutes.

Lyrical Ballads: 1800 edition

In the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth writes that he has ‘taken as much pains to avoid [poetic diction] as others ordinarily take to produce it’, trying instead to ‘bring [his] language near to the language of men’.

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William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience [page: 46]

‘London’ from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, 1794. Blake emphasises the injustice of late 18th-century society and the desperation of the poor.

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Children, nature and the sublime

For the world to be regenerated, the Romantics said that it was necessary to start all over again with a childlike perspective. They believed that children were special because they were innocent and uncorrupted, enjoying a precious affinity with nature. Romantic verse was suffused with reverence for the natural world. In Coleridge’s ‘Frost at Midnight’ (1798) the poet hailed nature as the ‘Great universal Teacher!’ Recalling his unhappy times at Christ’s Hospital School in London, he explained his aspirations for his son, Hartley, who would have the freedom to enjoy his childhood and appreciate his surroundings. The Romantics were inspired by the environment, and encouraged people to venture into new territories – both literally and metaphorically. In their writings they made the world seem a place with infinite, unlimited potential.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, A Walking Tour of Cumbria

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, A Walking Tour of Cumbria [folio: 3v-4r]

In August 1802, Samuel Taylor Coleridge set out from his home at Greta Hall, Keswick, for a week’s solo walking-tour in the nearby Cumbrian mountains. He kept detailed notes of the landscape around him, drawing rough sketches and maps. These notes and sketches are in Notebook No 2, one of 64 notebooks Coleridge kept between 1794 and his death.

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A key idea in Romantic poetry is the concept of the sublime. This term conveys the feelings people experience when they see awesome landscapes, or find themselves in extreme situations which elicit both fear and admiration. For example, Shelley described his reaction to stunning, overwhelming scenery in the poem ‘Mont Blanc’ (1816).

Burke’s A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful

Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful [page: title page]

In this 1757 essay, the philosopher Edmund Burke discusses the attraction of the immense, the terrible and the uncontrollable. The work had a profound influence on the Romantic poets.

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The second-generation Romantics

Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge were first-generation Romantics, writing against a backdrop of war. Wordsworth, however, became increasingly conservative in his outlook: indeed, second-generation Romantics, such as Byron, Shelley and Keats, felt that he had ‘sold out’ to the Establishment. In the suppressed Dedication to Don Juan (1819-1824) Byron criticised the Poet Laureate, Robert Southey, and the other ‘Lakers’, Wordsworth and Coleridge (all three lived in the Lake District). Byron also vented his spleen on the English Foreign Secretary, Viscount Castlereagh, denouncing him as an ‘intellectual eunuch’, a ‘bungler’ and a ‘tinkering slavemaker’ (stanzas 11 and 14). Although the Romantics stressed the importance of the individual, they also advocated a commitment to mankind. Byron became actively involved in the struggles for Italian nationalism and the liberation of Greece from Ottoman rule.Notorious for his sexual exploits, and dogged by debt and scandal, Byron quitted Britain in 1816. Lady Caroline Lamb famously declared that he was ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know.’ Similar accusations were pointed at Shelley. Nicknamed ‘Mad Shelley’ at Eton, he was sent down from Oxford for advocating atheism. He antagonised the Establishment further by his criticism of the monarchy, and by his immoral lifestyle.

Letter from Lord Byron about his memoirs, 29 October 1819

Letter from Lord Byron about his memoirs, 1819

In this letter to his publisher, John Murray, Byron notes the poor reception of the first two cantos of Don Juan, but states that he has written a hundred stanzas of a third canto. He also states that he is leaving his memoirs to his friend George Moore, to be read after his death, but that this text does not include details of his love affairs.

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Copyright: © GG Byron

Female poets

Female poets also contributed to the Romantic movement, but their strategies tended to be more subtle and less controversial. Although Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855) was modest about her writing abilities, she produced poems of her own; and her journals and travel narratives certainly provided inspiration for her brother. Women were generally limited in their prospects, and many found themselves confined to the domestic sphere; nevertheless, they did manage to express or intimate their concerns. For example, Mary Alcock (c. 1742-1798) penned ‘The Chimney Sweeper’s Complaint’. In ‘The Birth-Day’, Mary Robinson (1758-1800) highlighted the enormous discrepancy between life for the rich and the poor. Gender issues were foregrounded in ‘Indian Woman’s Death Song’ by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835).

The Gothic

Reaction against the Enlightenment was reflected in the rise of the Gothic novel. The most popular and well-paid 18th-century novelist, Ann Radcliffe (1764–1823), specialised in ‘the hobgoblin-romance’. Her fiction held particular appeal for frustrated middle-class women who experienced a vicarious frisson of excitement when they read about heroines venturing into awe-inspiring landscapes. She was dubbed ‘Mother Radcliffe’ by Keats, because she had such an influence on Romantic poets. The Gothic genre contributed to Coleridge’s Christabel(1816) and Keats’s ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ (1819). Mary Shelley (1797-1851) blended realist, Gothic and Romantic elements to produce her masterpiece Frankenstein (1818), in which a number of Romantic aspects can be identified. She quotes from Coleridge’s Romantic poem The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere. In the third chapter Frankenstein refers to his scientific endeavours being driven by his imagination. The book raises worrying questions about the possibility of ‘regenerating’ mankind; but at several points the world of nature provides inspiration and solace.

The Mysteries of Udolpho

The Mysteries of Udolpho [page: vol. I frontispiece and title page]

The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) by Ann Radcliffe was one of the most popular and influential Gothic novels of the late 18th century.

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The Byronic hero

Romanticism set a trend for some literary stereotypes. Byron’s Childe Harold (1812-1818) described the wanderings of a young man, disillusioned with his empty way of life. The melancholy, dark, brooding, rebellious ‘Byronic hero’, a solitary wanderer, seemed to represent a generation, and the image lingered. The figure became a kind of role model for youngsters: men regarded him as ‘cool’ and women found him enticing! Byron died young, in 1824, after contracting a fever. This added to the ‘appeal’. Subsequently a number of complex and intriguing heroes appeared in novels: for example, Heathcliff in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Edward Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (both published in 1847).

Illustrations to Wuthering Heights by Clare Leighton

The Byronic hero influenced Emily Brontë’s portrayal of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. This 1931 edition of Brontë’s novel is illustrated with wood engravings by Clare Leighton.

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Copyright: © By arrangement with the Estate of Clare Leighton


Romanticism offered a new way of looking at the world, prioritising imagination above reason. There was, however, a tension at times in the writings, as the poets tried to face up to life’s seeming contradictions. Blake published Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul (1794). Here we find two different perspectives on religion in ‘The Lamb’ and ‘The Tyger’. The simple vocabulary and form of ‘The Lamb’ suggest that God is the beneficent, loving Good Shepherd. In stark contrast, the creator depicted in ‘The Tyger’ is a powerful blacksmith figure. The speaker is stunned by the exotic, frightening animal, posing the rhetorical question: ‘Did he who made the Lamb make thee?’ InThe Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-1793) Blake asserted: ‘Without contraries is no progression’ (stanza 8).

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake

In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake explores ideas of contraries which also feature in Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

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Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’ (1798) juxtaposed moments of celebration and optimism with lamentation and regret. Keats thought in terms of an opposition between the imagination and the intellect. In a letter to his brothers, in December 1817, he explained what he meant by the term ‘Negative Capability’: ‘that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason’ (22 December). Keats suggested that it is impossible for us to find answers to the eternal questions we all have about human existence. Instead, our feelings and imaginations enable us to recognise Beauty, and it is Beauty that helps us through life’s bleak moments. Life involves a delicate balance between times of pleasure and pain. The individual has to learn to accept both aspects: ‘“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’ (‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ [1819]).

Manuscript of ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ by John Keats

‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ from a manuscript copy believed to be in the hand of George Keats, the poet’s brother.

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The premature deaths of Byron, Shelley and Keats contributed to their mystique. As time passed they attained iconic status, inspiring others to make their voices heard. The Romantic poets continue to exert a powerful influence on popular culture. Generations have been inspired by their promotion of self-expression, emotional intensity, personal freedom and social concern.


[1] Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley’s poetry and prose: authoritative texts, criticisms, ed. by Donald H. Reiman and Sharon B. Powers (New York; London: Norton, c.1977), p.485.

  • Written by  Stephanie Forward
  • Dr Stephanie Forward is a lecturer, specializing in English Literature. She has been involved in two important collaborative projects between the Open University and the BBC:The Big Read, and the television series The Romantics, and was a contributor to the British Library’sDiscovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians site. Stephanie has an extensive publications record. She also edited the anthology Dreams, Visions and Realities; co-edited (with Ann Heilmann) Sex, Social Purity and Sarah Grand, and penned the script for the C.D. Blenheim Palace: The Churchills and their Palace.

The text in this article is available under the Creative Commons License.

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