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Thread: "Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand"

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    "Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand"

    What's definition of "bank" here? I did some research, and I found that the expression "bank for flowers" is not uncommon. However, I am still not sure of its definition. In some cases, like in "He was buried under a bank of flowers sent by his friends", bank obviously means something like a heap or pile.

    However, this doesn't work in some other contexts. For example, the line in the subject refers to naturally growing flowers. So does the poem by Robert Burns ("On a bank of flowers, in a summer day"). Does this mean something like a small hill on which flowers grow?

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    i guess so.

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    yes, the bank is what the flowers grow on, not the flowers themselves, so you cannot say "He was buried under a bank of flowers sent by his friends," or ot least, I never would..
    Эдмунд Ричардович Вудфилд

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oddo
    yes, the bank is what the flowers grow on, not the flowers themselves, so you cannot say "He was buried under a bank of flowers sent by his friends," or ot least, I never would..
    Hehe. I only quoted this because I actually saw this phrase used like this in the Net. Check this, for example: http://www.google.com/search?q=%22ba...utiful+flowers

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    Well, you can say 'He was buried under a bank of flowers', of course. Maybe his friends sent the flowers, planted them and buried him under them.
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    Umm can we get some context here?
    I mean, I think 90% of native speakers, if asked to proofread this, would alter it in some way. It looks terrible. But that's why I need context - is it poetry ? Is it some older form of English? Was it written by a native speaker? Give us a chance!

    I particularly object to 'on every hand'. My intuition tells me it should read something like 'on every side'. You can say on (the) one hand, on the other hand .. but on every hand is a bit weird.

    I also think 'bank' is probably not the best word. But then we do have 'riverbank' and I suppose a bank is a kind of slope of earth. There's another word like that 'embankment', I think both are a bit old fashioned
    Море удачи и дачу у моря

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    Quote Originally Posted by waxwing
    Umm can we get some context here?
    I mean, I think 90% of native speakers, if asked to proofread this, would alter it in some way. It looks terrible. But that's why I need context - is it poetry ? Is it some older form of English? Was it written by a native speaker? Give us a chance!

    I particularly object to 'on every hand'. My intuition tells me it should read something like 'on every side'. You can say on (the) one hand, on the other hand .. but on every hand is a bit weird.

    I also think 'bank' is probably not the best word. But then we do have 'riverbank' and I suppose a bank is a kind of slope of earth. There's another word like that 'embankment', I think both are a bit old fashioned
    Context, huh? Here you go:

    2. The Council with the Munchkins

    She was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Dorothy had not been lying on the soft bed she might have been hurt. As it was, the jar made her catch her breath and wonder what had happened; and Toto put his cold little nose into her face and whined dismally. Dorothy sat up and noticed that the house was not moving; nor was it dark, for the bright sunshine came in at the window, flooding the little room. She sprang from her bed and with Toto at her heels ran and opened the door.
    The little girl gave a cry of amazement and looked about her, her eyes growing bigger and bigger at the wonderful sights she saw.
    The cyclone had set the house down very gently--for a cyclone--in the midst of a country of marvelous beauty. There were lovely patches of greensward all about, with stately trees bearing rich and luscious fruits. Banks of gorgeous flowers were on every hand, and birds with rare and brilliant plumage sang and fluttered in the trees and bushes. A little way off was a small brook, rushing and sparkling along between green banks, and murmuring in a voice very grateful to a little girl who had lived so long on the dry, gray prairies.

    L. Frank Baum, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"

    Was LFB a native English speaker? I suppose he was .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasper May
    Well, you can say 'He was buried under a bank of flowers', of course. Maybe his friends sent the flowers, planted them and buried him under them.
    Jasper, check the link just above your post

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    In this context, I believe that "bank" simply means that there were quite a lot of them, planted up in groups. I have heard "on every hand" before, although I don't believe it is often used anymore. It simply means something like "all around" or "everywhere."

    This is pure conjecture, but I think the saying may be referring to clock hands instead of, say, human hands.

    So basically, it's just: there were a lot of flowerbeds all around.

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    Here's what a few dictionary entries have to say about it:

    \Bank\, n. A group or series of objects arranged near together; as, a bank of electric lamps, etc.
    A piled-up mass, as of snow or clouds. See Synonyms at heap.
    A steep natural incline.
    An artificial embankment.
    The slope of land adjoining a body of water, especially adjoining a river, lake, or channel. Often used in the plural.
    So yeah.

    Baum was a master wordsmith, and as such, I suspect he intentionally chose a double meaning here - both that the flowers were literally on hillocks, and that there were quite a profusion of them.

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    @waxwing: so my knowledge of English isn't that deficient. I really thought the same as you, but since I'm technically not a native speaker, I didn't want to admit. Thank you.

    Anyway, it appears it is old-fashioned and poetic. So you'd better not use it, then. In context it's pretty obvious anyhow what's meant.
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    If it was in a poem, I wouldn't even blink; meaning is obvious.
    Just sounds strange in any other context. After all translations, there must have been a reason why you asked about it..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Линдзи
    In this context, I believe that "bank" simply means that there were quite a lot of them, planted up in groups. I have heard "on every hand" before, although I don't believe it is often used anymore. It simply means something like "all around" or "everywhere."

    This is pure conjecture, but I think the saying may be referring to clock hands instead of, say, human hands.

    So basically, it's just: there were a lot of flowerbeds all around.
    Lindsy, I don't think he meant flowerbeds. These flowers were growing naturally rather than planted.

    See also the quote from that poem by Burns in the original post.

    " A group or series of objects arranged near together; as, a bank of electric lamps, etc."
    I know this definition of bank, and before posting this question, I consulted several dictionaries. But I was sure that bank in this meaning can be only be used to mean a group of artificial objects (or artificially arranged ones). Would you refer to a group or trees naturally growing together as "a bank of trees?"

    Quote Originally Posted by waxwing
    If it was in a poem, I wouldn't even blink; meaning is obvious.
    So does it imply that there is a hill or some kind of slope, or did Baum mean just patches of land where flowers grow thickly?

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    Well, translations, having read through this thread again i can see i've been a bit dense and have wasted your time a bit. you just want to know what bank means.

    Lindzi is right I reckon, you get the sense of both things together ; piles or rows, and also an area of land, probably sloped .. this is how a lot of writers work, isn't it? they often use these ambiguities to add richness to the imagery. But I still find it a weird sentence.

    By the way, I love the use of 'greensward' hehe that is so old-fashioned. They used to have signs in English gardens and parks saying 'please refrain from stepping on the greensward' or something. I remember my mother taking the mickey out of it for being pretentious and out of date - 20 years ago
    Море удачи и дачу у моря

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