R is for Repousse…

(I’m in under the wire for the day!)


adjective \rə-ˌpü-ˈsā, -ˈpü-ˌ\

Definition of REPOUSSÉ

1: shaped or ornamented with patterns in relief made by hammering or pressing on the reverse side —used especially of metal

2: formed in relief

Origin of REPOUSSÉ

French, literally, pushed back

First Known Use: 1858

It’s French, you know, that word–repoussé–and that means, because it has the funny é at the end, I will be endlessly “insert”ing symbol throughout this post…

Check out the date of the First Known Use of the term… 1858. When you search examples of this technique (ha! I didn’t have to use the é — wait! Dang it!), you’ll come up with ancient examples: The Warren Cup (Romans), the Mildenhall Treasure and Hoxne Hoard (pre- AD 1000), and the Gundestrup Cauldron that dates from 200 to 300 AD (that’s in the late La Tène period for those of you playing along archaeologically).  Here’s a picture.

It’s STUNNING, right?

That’s a small, but beautiful example of repoussé. There’s something MUCH LARGER that might not come to mind immediately when you think about the technique of whacking metal on the reverse to shape it. I think it’s mostly because we don’t think of her as being made of anything malleable. At our house, in the late-1990s, she was known simply as “The Big Green Lady.”

Me: Unholy hell — THAT’S an example of repoussé??

Tim: Don’t mess with me, woman.

Now, let me explain my husband’s reaction. It just turns out that the most non-loquacious of creatures amongst us was, in the late 1990s, A NATIONAL PARK SERVICE INTERPRETER AT THE STATUE OF LIBERTY. I’ll wait patiently while that bit of eye-bending trivia about the family sinks in. What was that word we used early-on for him? Remember? Back on the letter L … something about being laconic … something…something …  Yes. An interpreter at what must be the MOST VISITED National Monument in the entire system. Ah, the stories he told … of the elderly lady from Slovakia who arrived on a mid-morning boat in 110°F heat to whom he had to say, “I’m sorry. The interior tour is closed because of the high temperatures,” and she berated him for ruining her visit to New York. He found himself crammed in the elevator giving “The Speech” time and again during the day.

He took a bus, the Staten Island Ferry, and then the crew boat to and from work every day. That made my commute across the Verranzano Narrows Bridge into Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to The Harbor Defense Museum where I was the Director look like a cakewalk. When he would arrive home, I’d have supper ready; he’d kiss and coddle our squirming- squealing-with-glee-at-seeing-daddy toddler (who is now 15 and will hate me for that assessment of his toddler years) and silently peck me on the cheek. “How was your day?” I’d start (this was only early on). He’d whisper, “Shh … I’ve used all my words today…” While I would read to the boy (I still have The Cat In The Hat committed to memory and the kids at the library get a kick out of that), Tim would sit quietly, silently. Sometimes, his eyes would close. He’d always smile. But, he’d used all his words, and that was okay. Give him an hour of silence, and he’d find soft words for me and the boy. Sometimes life is like that.

Poetry Form:  Rictameter Verse

Due to the inspiration of the movie “Dead Poets Society,” Jason Wilkins and his cousin Richard formed their own Society of Poets and from their challenges the Rictameter was created by Rich in 1990-91.
The Rictameter form is based on the idea of the Cinquain, and its popularity has spread simply because of its functionality without any restrictions apart from its format.
There is no need for rhyme with this form, only a strict adherence to syllable count. Like the Cinquain the Rictameter has a two syllable increment with each line, and a two syllable closure. However, unlike the Cinquain, the Rictameter does not stop at eight, it continues with a line of ten syllables, and instead of a two syllable closure, it decreases each line by two syllables per line until the closure. The closure being a repeat of the first line, so it is advisable to make it eye catching and definitive.
The syllable count is as follows . .2R. 4. 6. 8. 10. 8. 6. 4. 2R.  (from www.thepoetsgarret.com)


Gently steals in

Threading through our evening

Wrapping our family together

For even no words speak volumes of love

When out of ourselves we give all

Sacrifice unspoken

Patiently borne



(sometimes life is like that)

3 Replies to “R is for Repousse…”

  1. Lovely post. We forget how much what we do in our day job rebounds into our home life. I love that he used up all his words.. You write it beautifully.

  2. In jewelry making, there is the technique of chasing and repousse. I’ve never figured out the chasing part, maybe it has to do w/ chasing one’s tools. I love the look of repousse which takes a lot of skillful pounding and annealing of the metal. Kind of like writing.

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