A good name

For the dverse prompt—my sign, my name, my house.


Not all place names go back to the Romans, or the Celts with their spirits of place. History is a stream, un long fleuve tranquille, it delves banks and builds ramparts, and it drops names here and there wherever someone needs one. A place name by the roadside stands proudly, arbitrary spelling because farmers didn’t go to school much. But someone had heard of a Mogul emperor and gave his name to a small farm. Perhaps a daughter, who read novels or poetry, an exotic name that caught her fancy. Her father, to indulge her, in his slow, clumsy hand wrote it as she said it, onto the title deeds, and claimed a bit of history for his own.


Home in the meadows,

still as stone in the stream,

basks in ancient splendour.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

41 thoughts on “A good name”

  1. It is a nice sounding name even if the spelling isn’t quite right. It is a nice thought that the father might have named the place based on his daughter’s fancy.

  2. Local history is always interesting to me. Just how people settled a territory, named it and so forth is fascinating. Your haiku reminds me of a local town named Leakey, pro ounced Lakey, lol

    1. It’s quite common for rich people to give their huge villas exotic names, but for a simple share cropper it’s unusual. They must have been people with quite a culture.

    1. The electricity board spells it Tambarlan, the land registry spells it Tamberlan, the local authority responsible for the road signs spells it both ways. Take you pick 🙂

  3. What a lovely property. I really enjoyed your haibun, especially the ending of the prose, imagining the origin of the name. History does flow and carve our future, much like a stream…love that analogy.

  4. Spelling is over-rated … it’s the feeling, the wishes and dreams and you evoke this beautifully. The real importance of a place to rest your heart.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I imagine that whoever gave this metairie its name, and the clerc who registered the name weren’t too comfortable with history or reading in general. It makes the choice of such an exotic name so much more intriguing.

    1. Thank you! I love place names. They tell the story of how the settlement originated, and when it’s not a settlement, just a piece of land, it has an even more personal stoiry.

  5. LOVE the haibun….love the history you’ve given us here. The “power” of a name. So very glad you’ve maintained the knowledge of your history here. Far too often that background is lost. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks Lillian 🙂 They were very simple people, just share croppers; and their history was oral. We learnt a lot about the place from the elderly couple who bought part of the land, the vineyard, nearly forty years ago.

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