Found Poetry on Wikipedia

January 26th, 2009

Dried valerian under Goðafoss in Iceland, November 2007

Found Wikipoetry?  The text below is from the Wikipedia entry for Valerian, a medicinal root. It reads like something out of McSweeney’s magazine or George Saunders.

I quote it at length, for posterity, because who knows how long it will endure in this eerie form:

The name Valerian comes from the Latin word valere, meaning “to be strong or healthy”, generally thought to refer to its medicinal use, though many references suggest that it also refers to the strong odor.

An explanation for the theory regarding the etymological reference to the strong odor is that the herb was also known as “Phou” or “Fy” in antiquity . «Phou» or «fy» is describing a common expression of the peoples of the European continent when smelling a dried Valerian root. According to folk belief this medicine could turn everything painful into good. It was therefore called “wenderot” or similar in Germanic language groups, meaning the root that could turn things bad to good. Domestic animals, pets, especially cats become ardent when they smell the herb.

Is this some wikipedian who channels an ancient nordic shaman?  A case of herb-induced prose?  I have traced the moment in version history when the apocryphal author appeared, but all that can be known of him or her is an IP address that hails from Lillehammer, Norway, north of Oslo….


Leave a Reply