Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries). 2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])
Prince Marnold was born to the Duke and Duchess of Oxford on the eve of 1614. There was a chill that arose with his first cries, despite the fact that the massive fireplace in the Duchess’s bedchamber was roaring, producing four-foot high flames. She shivered as she held the infant close and thanked God for his uneventful birth. She could hear the wind whistling through the corridor, and the snow brushing on the chamber’s windowpane as she thought about tiny Marnold’s future: “Music! Music will be his life.”
It was Prince Manold’s 16th birthday, an auspicious time for an Oxford Royal. It was when his childhood commitments were either cast off in favor of more attractive pursuits, or they would be fervently embraced and further developed. Of course, Marnold had been following music almost since he was born. He had mastered nine instruments, but was especially good at musical composition—producing innovative and provocative works, and even inventing a musical instrument, that sadly, had brought scandal and shame to his family. It was a 3-foot long ceramic phallus that was played by sitting on a stool, putting it between one’s legs, and stroking it up and down with both hands, which were resined and made a provocative moaning sound. He called it the The Moaning Maypole. He first played it as a surprise at his mother’s birthday party. When he took it out of its case there were gasps, and applause, and his mother passed out. When she reawakened, the Duchess, in her bed upstairs, was determined that Prince Marnold would never touch a musical instrument again. His birthday choice would take him in a new direction.
When his 16th birthday arrived, she summoned the Prince to tell him of her wish, a wish that was actually a command in the hierarchy of the family. She was a little concerned about his reaction, given that Marnold had some ugly habits, the worst of which was butchering rats and other small animals and hanging their dripping skins from the stables’ rafters.
The Duchess told Marnold of her decision that he take a new turn, and supervise the serfs in the fields. He went mad. His music was everything to him. It was his comfort, his desire, his direction, his life’s meaning, his one love. Then, he thought of his dripping animal skins hanging in the stables. He thought of the shining butcher knife in the drawer in the scullery where rabbits and other small animals were gutted, skinned, and dismembered. Then, he thought of his mother, no better than a rat for what she was doing to him.
The next day, the Duchess and her son took a walk in the fields so she could show him the lay of the land and prepare him to undertake their supervision. When they got down into a gully, out of sight, Marnold pulled out the butcher knife and murdered his mother. He did it swiftly and cut a rectangle from the back of her gown, and then, using his self-taught skinning skills, removed a corresponding rectangle of his mother’s skin from her back. Then, he buried his mother deep in ground. She was never found, but a headstone was placed in memoriam at Wolvercote Cemetery. Marnold kept the flesh rectangle.
Out of pure malevolence, Marnold dried and cured the rectangle of his mother’s skin so it had the consistency of parchment paper, making it into a music sheet upon which he intended to compose her requiem. He died before he could do so when he fell off a balcony at the Jay Bird’s Beak, the village pub. His belongings were stored away in a large trunk, with what proved to be an impenetrable lock. Many, many years later, it was found and sold at auction to an antiques dealer on London’s Portobello Road. He shoved it into a warehouse where it sat untouched for twenty-some years more. One night, thieves broke into the warehouse, spotted the trunk, smashed it open, and stole its contents, including the Duchess-skin music sheet. One of the thieves was an aspiring musician. He was delighted with the music sheet and wrote a composition on it. It was set to debut by his rock band, The Smooths, at the Tornado, a popular pub in Notting Hill. At the first note played, the music sheet screamed as if it were in horrendous pain and fell writhing to the floor. The Tornado cleared out in two seconds, except for a filthy teenaged boy. He screamed “It’s my mother,” snatched up the squirming music sheet, and ran out the pub’s door, where he disappeared into the night.
The band was dumbstruck. There were so many questions. They decided not to ask them, and instead, decided to get ready for their next gig, in Cambridge. The thief-composer swore he would go straight, even if he had to get a real job.
Occasionally, people report a sort of musical moaning sound coming out of High Gate Cemetery. Most people think it’s couples using the cemetery as a secluded place to have sex, but there’s an ethnomusicologist who believes it sounds like Prince Marnold’s “Moaning Maypole” that he had heard played from behind a curtain, due to its salaciousness, at the V&A in London. Could it be the ghost of Prince Marnold seeking further revenge on his murdered mother by playing the moaning musical instrument she hated? Or, is it simply the wind blowing past the large culvert down in the gully by the cemetery’s western wall, which, by the way, has provided shelter to vagrants and scoundrels since the 1840s?
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)
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