Meaning of "crutch 'gin" in Browning's Childe Roland

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From Browning's Childe Roland:

What else should he be set for, with his staff?
What, save to waylay with his lies, ensnare
All travellers who might find him posted there,
And ask the road? I guess’d what skull-like laugh
Would break, what crutch ’gin write my epitaph
For pastime in the dusty thoroughfare

What is the meaning of "crutch 'gin"? I know the meaning of crutch, but what does 'gin mean here? "Going"? "Again"? These do not seem to fit.

CowperKettle

Posted 2016-06-12T13:57:53.603

Reputation: 36 949

1"What crutch [would] begin [to] write my epitaph" -- the narrator imagines the "hoary cripple" writing his epitaph in the dusty road with his crutch. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-06-12T14:10:42.180

@StoneyB - thank you, I would never have guessed! Case closed. – CowperKettle – 2016-06-12T14:11:30.683

@StoneyB - it's a pity he did not come up with a clearer wording. Would any native speaker understand this 'gin right away? – CowperKettle – 2016-06-12T14:19:06.793

3'gin is a common abbreviation in Elizabethan English; Browning was immersed in the Elizabethan stage, and could count on his readers to recognize it. The ellipses are pretty ordinary. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2016-06-12T15:22:06.777

Answers

1

"What crutch [would] begin [to] write my epitaph" -- the narrator imagines the "hoary cripple" writing his epitaph in the dusty road with his crutch.

'gin is a common abbreviation in Elizabethan English; Browning was immersed in the Elizabethan stage, and could count on his readers to recognize it. The ellipses are pretty ordinary.

(Kudos to StoneyB)

CowperKettle

Posted 2016-06-12T13:57:53.603

Reputation: 36 949