I should have noted that the appearance of skoramis in Browning's poem reveals something about how VN (or Vera) responded to requests for clarification. Vera gave Mr. Abel the correct meaning, but the part about "English dons in the past" is, at best, a dodge. It may be true, but Browning was never an English don, and Browning is the clear source of the word. It should be counted in his favor that for all his bluster about how his books should and should not be read, VN usually left the enjoyable work of tracking down allusions and advancing theories to his best readers. He didn't give away the game.
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