Interested in Language
Can anybody enlighten me on what the bold text means?
With the sunrise there came a change, a low, slow-moving scud driving down from the North-East, and drifting across the face of the newly-risen sun, which was shining with a queer, unnatural glare. Indeed, so stormy and be-burred looked the sun, that I could have applied to it with truth the line:—"And the red Sun all bearded with the Storm,"to describe its threatening aspect.
W.H.Hodgson, Throught The Vortex of a Cyclone, 1907
Thank you very much
The author is applying the common English prefix "be-", which has several uses, adding it to the noun "bur(r)" to form an adjective, creating a form similar to the word "bejewelled" (covered in jewels).
be-: (One of its several uses as a prefix is to form adjectives ending in -ed) having, covered with.
bur(r): a prickly [or spiky] clinging seed-case or flower-head.
The best known of these plants in the UK is probably the burdock.
Therefore "be-burred" means having, or covered with, bur(r)s (spikes or prickles).
In this instance it's as if the sun was covered in rays like spikes. You have to try to imagine that idea combined with the storm clouds and strange light, which are described in the sentence before the one in question.
2. "And the red sun all bearded with the storm":
Imagine the circle of the sun as a face. This is simply saying that the storm clouds formed a huge beard of cloud beneath the red sun, as it rose up through them. This, we are told, is "to describe its threatening aspect."
I can't quite find the right picture to describe this. Look at the picture by following the link below, but try to imagine that the sun is lower in order to form a "cloud beard" effect, that it is redder, and that the clouds are more stormy.
Last edited by Eckaslike; 16-Sep-2015 at 22:21.
(BrE first language speaker.)