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justina bandol
Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019 10:45:47 PM
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Have you come across the notion of „holy highwayman”? Is it ironic? I only found it in a couple of quotes on the net and it seems so. Would „holy” allude to a member of the clergy / a saint?

I have it in the following quote:
His dreams were as chaotic as a colony of gannets. Through them blundered the great garefowl, white-masked like some holy highwayman.
thar
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 1:43:15 AM

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There is no connection I have ever heard of.

I think they are making an oxymoron, a contrast between a masked man - a highwayman, but in this case, the mask is white, making them ghostly or holy, instead of black and devilish.


In the colony of white gannets, the great auk stands out like a black-clad highwayman.





A highwayman wears a black mask (well, usually a kerchief, but that is less useful at fancy dress parties because you can't drink!)



But the great auk had a white mask. That is the opposite of black - not villainous but pure and holy. So the disjunct creates a highwayman, but a holy one.



That is how I would understand it. Maybe somebody else knows of some connection between the words that I have never heard of.

Marek Guman
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 3:31:35 AM

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Thar, that is a very plausible explanation. I found a book which the excerpt is from, it's Where the world ends by Geraldine McCaughrean.
This is the next section: "In his dream, her glossy black back was not soft with feathers at all, but a fall of young woman's hair, and from the ridged and hefty beak came song Murdina had sung, about trees and lochs and love."

He's in love, so of course, a woman he loves becomes a saint in his dreams. Pray
justina bandol
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 6:56:46 AM
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I can probably give you any poetic phrase and you'd make a whole (true) history out of it!

Yes, everything you both said is true. Thank you.
Marek Guman
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 7:20:29 AM

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It is a beautiful metaphor, maybe a little sad too. Great auks went extinct because of massive exploitation by humans in the 19th century.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_auk
Marek Guman
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2019 2:04:28 PM

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I must add that this was a wonderful detective work from thar.
justina bandol
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2019 7:42:08 AM
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I suspect he's frightfully perceptive like that lots of times. Think
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