Quiddity is a poem written in the Dizain form. The Dizain consists of ten lines, ten syllables a line, with a regular, mirrored rhyme scheme of ababbccdcd. Drawing an imaginary line between the last ‘b’ and first ‘c’ will help the pattern to emerge. In the first half, one ‘side of the mirror’, if you will, the first and third lines rhyme, and the second, fourth, and fifth lines rhyme. Then, ‘reflected’ in reverse, the second half of the poem uses this pattern, but backwards. The double letters, this time ‘c’, come first, second, and fourth, with ‘d’ coming in third and last.

This popular 15th-16th century French form was used in the 19th century by the Romantic poet, John Keats. Employed here, the form reflects the author’s intention to reflect the Romantics’ embracing of the sublime and supernatural in face of the determinism of the Enlightenment.

Quiddity is ‘the essence of a thing’, that which makes it different from any other.1 The poem begins by asking ‘Who is?’ or ‘Who is he?’; it answers this question in the last line. The poet then takes us on an ‘etymological diversion’ through the shifting landscape of ‘quis’ and ‘quid’ in Latin. The Latin word ‘quis’ means ‘who’. When ‘quis’ shifts to the grammatical classification of gender neutered, it is a what, no longer a who. Thus, like ourselves, when cut off from identity, from our ‘who essence’, the word devolves into a utilitarian ‘what’. A ‘quid’ is slang for the British pound, a currency. The idea of spending one’s existence or bartering for meaning, reflected in modern self-identifying practices and constructs such as social media, where humans function as both consumers and products that are consumed. Thus the strange, third way of finding ourselves redefined as a what, a sort of currency, neither necessarily male nor female, but as worthy as esteemed in trade only, then requires we be redeemed through an inequitable trade to be restored, (the Full Quid, not lacking) through the what, the word, that is a Who: The Word.

‘the essence of a thing’
a Dizain
Karise Gililland

Quis est?2 Et’mological diversion:

Who or what depends on connotation.

Gender neutered3 becomes less a person;

Somehow losing ourselves in translation.

Tertium quid,4 odd third situation-

Coined5 word by word, bartered and rebranding.

Quiddity, one’s pound of flesh withstanding,6

No equitable essence, quid pro quo.7

The Full Quid,8 same essence left remanding,9

Word for words,10 who supersedes status quo.11


1 Oxfordreference.com

2 Latin: ‘Who is?’ or ‘Who is he?’

3 A play on words, referring to both the gender neutral classification of ‘quid’ (what) as used for non-human things, and ‘quis’ (who) used for people, being masculine or feminine; So quid (a thing) is obviously less than a person; when we deny our particular masculine or feminine humanity, we become as a thing; our Quiddity, or essence, that thing which is particularly human, our Imago Dei, is lost.

4 Latin; Literally, ‘the third way’; refers usually to odd third parties or an ambiguous third way; indefinite but related somehow; the author uses this to refer to the neither male nor female status of the person as a what, a utilitarian, expendable, tradeable currency, as opposed to being a ‘who’ that is particularly created Imago Dei, in the image of God, as in Genesis 1:27b, “male and female He created them.”

5 This double play on words refers to both the quid as slang reference to a British Pound, and to the modern re-invention of the self as some marketable, expendable identity or ‘brand’ to trade upon.

6 “Pound of flesh”: from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. The “pound of flesh” refers to Shylock’s demanded payment for debt incurred. Double play on words as pound and quid are, as above referenced, interchangeable. This violation of essence, of trading being a “who for a what” requires some payment to redeem.

7 Latin; Literally, “something in exchange for something.” In this case, the required exchange to restore or redeem a mistaken identity, literally the wrong essence by definition; once misappropriated, some other, fuller essence must be given in exchange for that pound of flesh; references the Incarnation (John 1:14); withstanding: references the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Luke 24:7).

8 The Full Quid: slang referring to a full payment; conversely, “not the full quid” is to be lacking mentally. In this case, a full, complete, true payment must be made.

9 Remanding: legal; to send back into custody, await further proceedings.

10 Word for words: Trading him that is fully God and fully man, a ‘who’, the Word, (Jesus, John 1:1), for the coined and bartered ‘what’ words (identities) that men and women have put upon themselves in separating themselves from God

11 Latin, meaning “existing state of affairs;” In this case, the Word, Jesus, supersedes our fallen and mortal state, that status quo; answers the first line, “Who is He?”