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unchartered territory

May 27, 2020

A good friend of mine – take a bow, Mr Bruce Dessau – has forwarded to me this snippet from the Visit Kent website:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown us all into unchartered territory.”

Unchartered territory, eh? The word charter has two main meanings. The older meaning is for an authority to formally establish and grant rights to, as in a monarch or mayor chartering a city or company. In William Blake’s poem ‘London’ he writes: ‘I wander through each chartered street/ near where the chartered Thames does flow’ – meaning that the streets and river have been been parcelled up and handed out by the City to various companies for their own private use: the repeated use of the word implies a protest at this state of affairs. The second, more recent meaning is to hire, as in chartering a plane. Clearly neither of those senses could apply to the metaphorical territory that the pandemic has taken us into. No, what the Kent copywriter meant was uncharted territory: territory that hasn’t been charted, or mapped.

I would get out more; but that would be irresponsible at this time.

From → Uncategorized

2 Comments
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    There is also Charterhouse from the monastery in France who brought us Green, and Yellow, Chartreuse beloved of cocktail makers and possibly Old Carthusians.

  2. Oh yes – very good! Never made the connection between Charterhouse and Chartreuse before.

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