Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
[The air is cool and twilight falls
And the Rhine flows calmly by;
The mountain summit glitters
In the evening sunshine.]
From Die Lorelei by Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)
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Yan tan tethera pethera pimp: old sheep-counting systems in the UK
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Wie soll ich meine Seele halten, daß
sie nicht an deine rührt? Wie soll ich sie
hinheben über dich zu andern Dingen?
(How shall I hold my soul so that it does not touch yours?
How shall I lift it across you to other things?)
Rainer Maria Rilke, from ‘Liebes-Lied’ (Song of Love)
[A]lmost nothing that has been written about the limerick can be taken seriously – which is perhaps only fitting … . The limerick is, and was originally, an indecent verse-form. The ‘clean’ sort of limerick is an obvious palliation, its content insipid, its rhyming artificially ingenious, its whole pervaded with a frustrated nonsense that vents itself typically in explosive and aggressive violence.
Gershon Legman, The Limerick, vol. 1 (1964)
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The Devil’s Advice to Storytellers
Lest men suspect your tale to be untrue,
Keep probability – some say – in view.
But my advice to story-tellers is:
Weigh out no gross of probabilities,
Nor yet make diligent transcriptions of
Known instances of virtue, crime or love.
To forge a picture that will pass for true,
Do conscientiously what liars do –
Born liars, not the lesser sort that raid
The mouths of others for their stock-in-trade:
Assemble, first, all casual bits and scraps
That may shake down into a world perhaps;
People this world, by chance created so,
With random persons whom you do not know –
The teashop sort, or travellers in a train
Seen once, guessed idly at, not seen again;
Let the erratic course they steer surprise
Their own and your own and your readers’ eyes;
Sigh then, or frown, but leave (as in despair)
Motive and end and moral in the air;
Nice contradiction between fact and fact
Will make the whole read human and exact.
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The Shining Levels
The shining levels carry me down
On beauty, style, borrowed finery –
The decay of the angel, the golden ass,
The distant past another roadside attraction.
From the bookmash archive on Sentence first.
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When you call me Miss or Mrs.
You invade my private life,
For it’s not the public’s business
If I am, or was, a wife.
(Anon, quoted in Miller & Swift’s Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing.)
More at Sentence first: Ms., Mrs., and Missing options
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