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62486.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 9:50 am Reply with quote


For 200 points, what did Wordsworth smell?




Nothing. Wordsworth was an anosmic. He had no sense of smell at all.


This peculiar deficiency was noted by both Wordsworth’s close friend, the poet laureate Robert Southey (1774-1843), in his 1822 reminiscences and by the poet’s nephew Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) in his Memoirs of his uncle (1851).

Others famous anosmics include: the actor Bill Pullman; Brian Mulroney, the Canadian Prime Minister; Michael Hutchence, lead singer of rock band INXS; Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues and Ben Cohen, of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Some people are born without a sense of smell. This is called congenital anosmia. Alternatively, anosmia can be caused by a severe blow to the head, by a virus or by vitamin A deficiency. Anosmia caused by traumatic head injury is generally permanent. Viral anosmia (such as that caused by a bad cold) is usually temporary.

Smell and memory are intimately linked. Damage to the temporal cortical region of the brain - the site of memory - does not affect the ability to detect smell, but prevents the ability to identify it.

Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease often lose their sense of smell as well as their memory.

Strangely enough, the latest treatment for Alzheimer's involves a drug called Galanthine which is made from...daffodils.



(Specially shot, I'd say. Now is the perfect time!)

Technical details:

Galanthine is made from the bulbs of daffodils, not the flowers. Every part of a daffodil is poisonous, so do not try this at home.

The business of Wordsworth being unable to smell is strange because he does mention smell in his poetry from time to time. Was he making it up?

Soft is the music that would charm forever;
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770–1850) Not Love, Not War

Ah! how unlike each smell, each sight and sound
That late the stupor of my spirit broke.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770–1850) Salisbury Plain (1793-94)


s: flo
s: wik
s: msn
s: olf

Last edited by JumpingJack on Sat Apr 01, 2006 7:22 am; edited 1 time in total

62537.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 12:20 pm Reply with quote

He also said
Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Misshapes the beauteous form of things:
We murder to dissect.

which is utter tosh.

He obviously wasn't a QIte, which lofty position would have revealed to him that the closer you look, the more beauty there is...

62573.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 4:23 pm Reply with quote

Well quite.

I would throw a stinkbomb at him but what would be the point?

62606.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:33 pm Reply with quote

Coleridge disapproves of his own tendency towards analysis also:

Yon crescent Moon, as fixed as if it grew
In its own cloudless, starless lake of blue;
I see them all so excellently fair,
I see, not feel, how beautiful they are!

62607.  Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:35 pm Reply with quote

Is there a way of putting the question so that the answer isn't "nothing"?

62752.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:09 am Reply with quote

I honestly think this falls outside the category of things that shouldn't have the answer 'nothing' because it's so odd.

62755.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:10 am Reply with quote

But fight me, if you like.

"What was Wordsworth's favourite smell?"

62756.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:10 am Reply with quote

I know that's still 'nothing' but might induce more chat.

62758.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:14 am Reply with quote

I think a lack of smell is unusual enough to allow a null response, particularly as he's associated so strongly with the old pongy bee prostitutes.

62849.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 11:22 am Reply with quote

I suppose we can get at this via the question about what all those scents have in common (ie daffodils) - this should prompt the forfeit, anyway.

Frederick The Monk
63072.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:44 am Reply with quote

Wordsworth wouldn't have had much luck with the nasally fixated Ongee people of the South Pacific. See Gray's post here.


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