I'm reading Malcolm Lowry's letters and his first letter to Conrad Aiken finishes like this:

te-thrum te-thrum te-thrum te-thrum, Malcolm Lowry

Does anyone know what "te-thrum" mean in this case? Thanks in advance!


1 Answer 1


In Lowry's 1928 letter to Aiken, the echoic phrase 'te-thrum' is an homage to Aiken's 1927 novel, Blue Voyage. In Blue Voyage, "te thrum" appears repeatedly in the narrator's internal monolog, as a representation of the sound of the narrator's heart in his ear. Thus, Lowry and Aiken both use "te thrum" to represent the sound of a blood pulse.

Is it my heart or is it the engine? Te thrum: te thrum.

op. cit., p. 189

Te thrum te thrum. In my left ear my heart. …
In my left ear my heart Te thrum te thrum.

op. cit., p. 190

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