Words; aestivate, v.

"SUMMERTIME AND the cotton is high." Du Bose Heyward did not pun in his lyric for George Gershwin's song, but it comes to mind as such amid the matted T-shirts on outstretched limbs in London's ramshackle Tube. One longs to aestivate; that is, to spend the summer in suspended animation - from Latin for summer, the equivalent of hibernation. As Bacon wrote, with an alternative spelling, "a grotto is a place of shade, of estivation".

In the cool of the Angler's Rest, W.H. Auden's executor, Edward Mendelson, is sure that the poet never used the word, which is odd, for he relished obscure words and shied from the sun.

Ira Gershwin also wrote a "Summertime" for his brother, 15 years earlier, but it is thin without the lost music.

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