ivory tower

the isolated world of scholars who cannot relate to the uneducated
—The university scientists tried to tell the farmers how to grow their crops, but the farmers told the scientists to come down from their ivory tower and see how actual farming is done.

Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon about his love for a woman who becomes his wife. In it, he describes his beloved as a beautiful lady, though he sometimes uses comparisons that sound rather strange to our ears today:

Your neck is like a tower made of ivory [tower of ivory—KJV].
Your eyes are the pools in Heshbon
by the gate of Bath-Rabbim.
Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon
overlooking Damascus. (Song of Solomon 7:4)

In 1837, Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve wrote a poem, “Thoughts of August,” in which he says that another poet lives as if he is in an “ivory tower,” going to bed before noon. Since then, “living in an ivory tower” has taken on the meaning of being so caught up with scholarly activities that one is out of touch with the common man.

Previous Post
Next Post
Comments are closed.
  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2017 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

  • Creative Commons License
    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Any reproduction of this content using passages from the NET Bible must follow NET Bible's copyright policy for use of those passages.

    For information on creating translations of Putting Words in Our Mouths, please go here.

  • Visit My Blog: Clearing Customs

    Miriam Beard on Travel: A Change in the Ideas of Living

    I’ve often wondered how a single phrase finds its way from being buried in a memoir or novel to being plucked out as a stand-on-its-own “quotation.” Of course, the creator of the thought is important, but so is the one who finds it and decides it’s worthy of display on its own. “Next to the […]

    Back Away from That Keyboard: These Books for Cross-Cultural Workers Should Remain Unwritten [—at A Life Overseas]

    Seen any good best-of-the-year book lists lately? I have, but this isn’t one of them. Instead, I’ve created a much different kind of list. First, it is a collection of book titles—for cross-cultural workers—but there aren’t real books to go with the names. Second, these titles aren’t any kind of best, and probably shouldn’t even make it […]