Confession Time: Pretty much all my life I have struggled with the meaning of two particular words: melancholy and sparse.
I don’t know why, it probably dates back to my melancholy childhood in a sparsely populated county. No, wait, my non-melancholy youth in a non-sparse locale . . . no, no, no, um, my sparsely melancholy formative years in a melancholy sparse area.
I was happy, but there weren’t many people around.
Whew. And I think both of the words mean their opposite.
Let’s just take melancholy. What about that word sounds sad? Nothing, that’s what. I get pictures of long-faced, furry friends enjoying overflowing bowls of honeydew. There’s nothing pensive about a fruit salad enjoyed by man’s best friend.
And it doesn’t help when the context clues are confusing combos like “beauty.”
Just as Daisy’s house had always seemed to him more mysterious and gay than other houses, so his idea of the city itself, even though she was gone from it, was pervaded with melancholy beauty.
I bet he was just upset because the city was so sparsely populated.