Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, September 22, 2006

Toward More Quaint/Vivid/Scenical/Striking Speech

Scenical's a word? Who knew? I was looking up synonyms for picturesque rather than rip off Reader's Digest, and there it was in Andrew Swanfeldt's crossword puzzle dictionary! The Clearest, Quickest, Most Up-to-Date and Authoritative Dictionary of its Kind -- according to the subtitle. Why don't any of my books have cool subtitles like that? Ghost of a Chance could be subtitled . . . um . . . The Cluelessest, Queerest, Most Up-to-Dating and Audacious Mystery of its Kind. Oh, wait. Never mind.

But I do have a fun new word for the day now, so I'm happy. You can bet I'll slip it casually into conversation at least three times today and then remember it forever. "What a scenical view you have of the red barn!" I'll tell the chickens when I get around to throwing them some scratch. "That vista is certainly scenical," I'll remark to the pronghorn as I drive into town. (The pronghorn to whom I'll speak will, of course, be in their scenical pastures, not in the car with me. Just so you know.) To my husband I'll say, "You should have scenical that movie my mom and I watched on AMC this week."

That last one might be wrong. But the movie was a musical. "Scenical a good musical?" If it isn't right, it should be.

But the point of all this is to reintroduce the blog I posted last week. I mean, it was my very first contest ever and only one person entered before it disappeared. Or was stolen. (I'm suspicious, but until I can prove foul play I won't point a finger at Jeff. I'll merely continue to narrow my eyes at him meaningfully.)

So here's an abridgement of the Missing Post. The contest will run for one week and I'll post the winners next Saturday when I put up pictures of the Mystery Dinner. Unless Rob and Jeff pay me enough not to post their pictures, then all promises are off.


My magic is down. My spells mope around the house like sick old dogs . . .

I was introduced to that poem in a Freshman Lit class. (Note to Rob: No, it was not carved into the wall of the cave. It was neatly printed on papyrus.) I have long since forgotten the poet* and I have to admit I'm a little hazy on the simile, but I’ve never forgotten the vividness of the thought. After almost three decades, whenever I’m feeling particularly uninspired (like today) I think: My magic is down.

I was thrilled recently to learn I’m not the only poem-retentive one in the group. I loved the snippet I’ll lay me down to bleed awhile, then rise to fight again that Tristi posted. (Oh, no! I’ll undoubtedly forget the name of my dog before sunrise, but I’ll know that line forever!) And I’m wondering if there are still others like us. (Also, I need new lines!) So, since contests seem to be the rage here there and everywhere, and since I really am uninspired today (my magic is down, after all), I’m sponsoring a Send Me The Most Vivid Line You Can’t Get Out of Your Head contest. The winner will get a copy of a new mystery game I've almost finished. (Considering the time I've put into it it's a $3 million value, although I'll likely sell them for a little less than that.) I’d like to say I’ll be scrupulously fair and above-board like Stephanie and put all the entries into a box and have an impartial person from Switzerland draw the winner, but that probably won’t happen. I’ll probably just award the prize to the person who contributes the line I like best.

That was the post. Now please play along! In the meantime I'm going to write to Reader's Digest. Toward More Scenical Speech has a much nicer ring to it, don't you think?

*Richard Brautigan. I was reminded of this last week by a very savvy commenter whose name I've forgotten. (See "dog" above.) I owe you, though. Really.


At 9/22/2006 12:04 PM, Blogger Cantinflas said...

lately I've had Blake on my mind:

And what shoulder, & what art. / Could twist the sinews of thy heart?

Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

At 9/22/2006 12:23 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Love that Tyger! And I've always loved that line, too. Is it too early to declare a winner? :-)

Send more everyone! I could read great lines all day! (If I weren't busy writing mystery games and talking to pronghorn, that is.)

At 9/22/2006 2:40 PM, Blogger FHL said...

Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair ... covered the emptiness of my hand.

(It's from Joe vs. the Volcano, I don't know if it existed before that.)

... which makes me think of L.A. Story:

Oh pointy birds, oh pointy pointy
(not in movie:) Anoint my head, anointy nointy

At 9/22/2006 2:52 PM, Blogger Karen Hoover said...

I had the scarecrow song from the Wizard of Oz stuck in my head for two years, does that count? *whistle*...if I only had a brain...

At 9/22/2006 4:16 PM, Anonymous Gary said...

I don't have a quote (but I bet I get a copy of the game anyway.) But reguarding your quote from Richard Brautigan's (1935-1984) poem "After Halloween Slump." Written in 1968 the entire first verse reads,
"My magic is down. My spells mope around the house like a sick old dog with bloodshoot eyes watering cold wet noses."
Brautigan was a "hippy" poet of the 1960's who took his own life in 1984. In spite of that their are at least 3 web sites dedicated to his poetry.
I guess we all have a magic down day now and then.

At 9/22/2006 4:53 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Okay, here's my entry.

"She loved him for the world he opened to her view."

This is from Emily's Quest by L.M. Montgomery, when she's describing how Emily feels about Dean. This is exactly the way I felt about my husband when we were first dating.

At 9/22/2006 5:20 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Tristi, that reminds me of one from Othello:

"She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her for having pitied them."

At 9/22/2006 5:33 PM, Blogger KB said...

"Sometimes you just have to bow to the absurd." Jon Luc Picard, from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

It's not poetry, but it sticks in my head. When EVERY SINGLE THING is going wrong, and you think it can't possibly get worse, and then it does, this reminds me to laugh.

At 9/23/2006 12:14 AM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Never give up, never surrender---from the movie GalaxyQuest. I love that line!

Or, from Romeo and Juliet, "but soft what light through yonder window breaks?"

At 9/23/2006 12:30 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Oh my heck! Does anybody know a person from Switzerland? I may have to have a drawing after all. I'll never be able to choose!

Jean Luc Picard vs William Blake vs L.M. Montgomery vs William Shakespeare vs Joe & Volcano vs GalaxyQuest vs Wizard of Oz. So different, and yet so memorable. (I once quoted GalaxyQuest and Shakespeare in the same book; possibly in the same chapter.)

Now to quote Ronald McD: I'm loving it!

Thank you! Send more. I'm copying them all down as fast as I can.

At 9/23/2006 12:39 AM, Blogger John Ferguson said...

I always love the poems that seem so simple--so quaint and then shift ever so slightly into deep, profound points. How can you forget Frost's "And that has made all the difference."

Then there are times when I feel down, like the world is conspiring against me. Then I read the scriptures and realize it is true--the world IS conspiring against me. And all I want is a moments peace. Just a few minutes or an hour to myself. That's when I remember a line from a movie. I didn't care for the movie all that much, but this line has always inspired me to keep up the fight. Sean Connery as King Arthur said, "There's a peace only to be found on the other side of war. If that war should come I will fight it!"

May we all keep up the good fight and keep looking for those less travelled paths.

At 9/23/2006 9:57 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

OK You have picked my brain. I have three actually:

the first runs through my head for no apparent reason I learned it once and can't get it out of there:

"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date No time to say "Hello", "Goodbye" I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late."

the white rabbit from through the looking glass by lewis Carroll.

the second is more cerebral, it helps me remember the goal of my life. there is greater depth in the full content of the poem but I will quote the last line:

"Let me live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man"
the house by the side of the road by Sam Walter Ross.

the third is a phrase from a television show that I never watched, but I picked up the phrase. It's really a verse in a song:

"It's a Beautiful day in the neighborhood-a beautiful for a neighbor, would you be mine?"

Fred Rodgers on Mister Rodgers Nieghborhood.

At 9/23/2006 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I received these "anonymously" so I'll post them that way, I guess.

My spells are all twisted upside down. She kissed the prince into a frog, three little pigs huffed and puffed a wolf right out its den and every time my nose swells I tell a lie. Cursed wand, sent it back to Wal-mart.

A hopeless lot are we, never to measure up. Then spoke the kitchen help, hovelved over a boiling pot of stew. Twas a young boy’s voice like a heaven-sent whisper. Isn’t so hard to know. Water meets its own level. So shall we.

At 9/23/2006 12:47 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I once started a compilation of poetry and great thoughts I wanted my children to read. The poems of Ross and Frost you mentioned are both among those I know by heart. (By heart. Isn't that beautiful in itself?) And these:

"Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!--
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul." (Longfellow) I love Longfellow!

Keats called great poetry and "lovely tales" an "endless fountain of immortal drink Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink." Later in the same work (Endymion) he observed, "Nor do we merely feel these essences For one short hour. . . .The passion poesy, glories infinite, Haunt us till they befcome a cheering light Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, That, whether there be shine or gloom o'ercast, They always must be with us, or we die." Yes!

Thanks so much for sharing the "cheering light" that "haunts" your souls. I feel enriched at a time I really needed it!

And, John, I remember you now! Thank you! I can't in good conscience send you one of my books, but I know of an anthology you might love. Send me your address off line. To the rest of you: John won last week. THIS week's contest is still open!

At 9/24/2006 12:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.

At 9/24/2006 11:01 PM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Oh, Kerry! I love games! What a great idea.

The phrase that always comes to my mind, especially when sad, is "At ebb tide I wrote a line upon the sand, and gave it all my heart and all my soul. At flood tide I returned to read what I had inscribed and found my ignorance upon the shore." Only I don't know who said it. I often leave my heart where I shouldn't.

And lately, due to watching Grey's Anatomy (new season started, what a blessing) I've been telling my family "Be that as it may, I don't need me to tell you how wildly attractive I am. Wildly attractive!" But that's because I'm trying to fool them into not noticing the botched hair dying job I did. Oops.

At 9/25/2006 12:37 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Chillygator, all I have to say to you is SERIOUSLY! Who would you choose Finn or Derek?

At 9/25/2006 1:41 PM, Anonymous Marnie Pehrson said...

It's not a "line" really, but one of my favorite poems is "Bridge Builder" by Will Allen Dromgoole:

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old Man", said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way.
You've crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head-
"Good friend, in the path I have come",
he said, "There followeth after me today,
A youth whose feet must pass this way;
This chasm that has naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be:
He, too, must cross in the twighlight dim -
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

As for a line that remains in my mind... how about "Two dollars! I want my two dollars!" groaned only as the little paperboy from "Better off Dead" can as he lands in a drift of snow.

And as for Julie's question... pick Derek!

At 9/25/2006 2:37 PM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

One of the poems that haunts me is "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. I first read it when I was in about fourth grade, and memorized it for a recitation program. (Does that date me?) I was a very impressionable romantic (and still am!). The first stanza is so evocative:

"The wind was a torrent of darkness upon the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight looping the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding--
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn door."

Soon we hear of his love for the adventure of his vocation, as well as for the innkeeper's daughter Bess:

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart; I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light.
Yet if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

Then King George's men come, and lie in wait for the highwayman:

They said no word to the landlord; they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed.
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets by their side;
There was Death at every window,
And Hell at one dark window,
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had bound her up at attention, with many a sniggering jest!
They had tied a rifle beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast!
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the dead man say,
"Look for me by moonlight,
Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way."

She twisted her hands behind her, but all the knots held good!
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood!
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, on the stroke of midnight,
Cold on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

Of course, the story turns tragic:

Tlot tlot, tlot tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hooves, ringing clear;
Tlot tlot, tlot tlot, in the distance! Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding--
The redcoats looked to their priming! She stood up straight and still.

Tlot tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment, she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight--
Her musket shattered the moonlight--
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him--with her death.

Who can forget, having once heard it in their eyes and their hearts, the hooves pounding tlot tlot, tlot tlot?

If you want the whole thing, just type "the highwayman poem" into Google, and you'll find it in several places.

Marsha Ward
still obsessed by romance and death

At 9/25/2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

The Highwayman always reminds me of Anne of Green Gables when she gives that recitation and the look on Gilbert's face. Sigh. I love Anne of Green Gables.

At 9/25/2006 7:26 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

Some of my favorite illustrative poetry phrases come from songs:

"Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, How great thou art! How great thou art?"

"There'll be no sadness, no sorrow, No trouble, trouble I see. There will be peace in the valley for me, for me - - -Some sweet Day."

"Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way, When all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw, A-plowin' through the ragged sky and up a cloudy draw. Yippee-yi-ay! Yippee-yi-oh! Ghost riders in the sky."

And from a distant ancestor comes: Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occuptations, that is known as the Chrildren's Hour." (Longfellow)

At 9/25/2006 7:56 PM, Blogger FHL said...

BTW, Loreena McKennitt has a song about the Highwayman, very haunting.

And don't get me started with John Cusack - there's too many lines from his movies stuck in my head. !

Something I haven't been able to forget, but with which I don't agree:

A famous linguist once said that out of all the combinations of words in the English language, of everything ever spoken throughout history, 'Cellar Door' was the most beautiful.

--It appears to originally be a quote by Tolkien, possibly of someone else, but it appears more recently in Donnie Darko.
Obviously, the most beautiful words ever spoken are "Dinner's Ready!"

FHL, much too white and nerdy

At 9/26/2006 12:41 AM, Blogger ChillyGator said...

Dear Julie

It's all for McDreamy. (Good choice, Marnie!)

They showed episode 2 instead of the season opener in Canada so of course I downloaded it and Finn just feels creepy and Derek's hott, though I really don't ever want Addison to leave. Which is SO totally off the point of what I think Kerry was going for.

Love you, Kerry (o:

At 9/26/2006 1:43 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Chilly, my dear, you can write about anything you want here. Well, almost. :-)

fhl: Cellar door? Really? I'd never read that before. What about Attic Window? So many more possibilities, I think.

"I wake to sleep and take my waking slow. I learn by going where I have to go." (Theodore Roethke.) Don't know why, but that's stuck in my brain today. Guess I better start humming something from the Wizard of Oz to try to dislodge it. . .

At 9/26/2006 6:09 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Kerry, I saw this today and thought of us writers of romance:

He must have a truly romantic nature, for he weeps when there is nothing at all to weep about.
Oscar Wilde

Chillygator, I like Finn, he's decent and he hasn't hurt her like Derek has. Although the line, "I'm in love with you, I've been in love with you forever," made my heart melt. This is going to be a great season I think.


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