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The Point of Resemblance. When we say a man is a fox, we have in mind the characteristic common to both, cunning. It is by fixing the attention on the point of resemblance that a figure makes an idea specific.
435. In the following metaphors and similes, what is the point of resemblance that suggests the comparison?
1. A fiery temper; a rippling laugh; glassy eyes; golden hair; silvery waves; red-hot "liner"; iron muscle; catlike step; a ray of hope; growling thunder; mackerel sky; a sea of upturned faces; the snakelike caravan; crawling centuries; a striking thought; life's fitful fever; Stonewall Jackson; a hard heart; the silver moon.
2. The tongue of the just is as choice silver.
3. Boston is sometimes called the hub of Massachusetts, and Worcester the heart of the commonwealth.
135. Mixed Metaphors. In using figurative language we must not allow mixing of metaphors. Thus:
1. This world with all its trials is the furnace through which the soul must pass and be developed before it is ripe for the next world.
2. He was unable to steer his ship over the rough road of public sentiment.
3. Every one thought the rebellion had been rooted out; but it was soon rekindled with renewed vigor.
4. The chariot of Revolution is rolling, and gnashing its teeth. It is also quite as important not to use metaphorical and literal language in the same sentence. For example:
Is it the voice of thunder or of my father?
436. Are the following figures of speech satisfactory? If not, improve them.
1. Boyle was the father of chemistry and brother to the Earl of
2. An orator at one of the university unions bore off the palm of merit when he declared that "the British lion, whether it is roaming in the deserts of India or climbing the forests of Canada, will not draw in its horns or retire into its shell."
3. "Brethren," said an earnest exhorter to a body of religious workers, "brethren, remember that there is nothing which will kindle the fires of religion in the human heart like water from the fountains of life."
437. Discuss these two versions:
1. The cares and responsibilities of a sovereign often disturb sleep. 2. Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
438. Be prepared to change the following figurative expressions to literal and to discuss the difference in effect:
1. She speaks poniards, and every word stabs.
2. At one stride comes the dark.
3. He has spent all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells; and he is frittering away his age in trying to draw them up again.
439. Figures that come to us without seeking are likely to be the most simple and natural. Do any of these we have been examining lack naturalness and spontaneity?
440. A figure often surprises us. Sometimes its purpose is not to add beauty, but merely to afford amusement. Are there any examples of amusing figurative language in this chapter?
136. Metonymy. Metonymy is a figure of speech in which one word is put for another that suggests it. For example:
The ballot is more powerful than the bullet.
Who steals my purse steals trash.
441. In class, turn the following figurative language into literal statements. State which version you prefer, and why.
1. Bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. 2. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.
3. They always set a good table.
4. Three cheers for the red, white, and blue!
5. The lamp is burning.
6. The chair called the house to order.
7. Is the kettle boiling?
137. Personification. When metaphor and metonymy ascribe personality to things inanimate, they become personification. For example:
The storm rages.
The ship has found herself.
Must I thus leave thee, Paradise?
138. Apostrophe. Furthermore, addressing inanimate things, or persons not present, as if they could answer, is sometimes called apostrophe. The word suggests the turning from the natural course of the thought in order to do this. For example:
1. Ye principalities and powers,
That never tasted death!
Witness from off your heavenly towers
Our act of Christian faith.
2. Milton! thou should'st be living at this hour:
442. Are the following examples of personification or of apostrophe ?
1. Farewell, happy fields,
Where joy forever dwells! Hail, horrors, hail!
And thou, profoundest hell!
2. Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth And Melancholy marked him for her own.
3. Advance, then, ye future generations! We would hail you, as you rise in your long succession, to fill the places which we now fill, and to taste the blessings of existence where we are passing, and soon shall have passed, our own human duration. We bid you welcome to this pleasant land of the fathers.
139. The Transferred Epithet. We have an effective way of transferring epithets, of extending the attributes of one subject to another with which it is connected. "The expression of such a thought," says one writer, "must be considered as a figure, because the attribute is not applicable to the subject in any proper sense." He gives as examples:
1. Casting a dim, religious light. 2. He drew his coward sword. 3. The high-climbing hill. 4. He steers the fearless ship. 5. And the merry bells ring round. 6. And the jocund rebecks sound.
In all our study of figures we shall find that the most simple and natural are the most telling. Unconsciously we shall cull from common experiences figures that will illustrate and give point to our thoughts. A reasonable amount of care should keep us from mixing metaphors and from using figures as mere ornament. If it is not perfectly clear to you that we use figures as naturally as we breathe, notice the language of the people whom you hear talk from day to day.
443. In the two following extracts, how is force secured? In the second, note the use of the following words: clumping, twittering, commanding, casting, nick, bleak, closure, burn, torn, tinged, swim, massacre.
1. The schoolboy whips his taxed top; the beardless youth manages his taxed horse with a taxed bridle on a taxed road; and the dying Englishman, pouring his medicine, which has paid seven per cent, into a spoon that has paid fifteen per cent, flings himself back upon his chintz bed which has paid twenty-two per cent, and expires in the arms of an apothecary who has paid a license of a hundred pounds for the privilege of putting him to death. SYDNEY SMITH.
2. Now I write you from my mosquito curtain, to the song of saws and planes and hammers, and wood clumping on the floor above; in a day of heavenly brightness; a bird twittering near by; my eye, through the open door, commanding green meads, two or three forest trees casting their boughs against the sky, a forest-clad mountain-side beyond, and close in by the door-jamb a nick of the blue Pacific. It is March in England, bleak March, and I lie here with the great sliding doors open, in an undershirt and p'jama trousers, and melt in the closure of mosquito bars, and burn to be out in the breeze. A few torn clouds not white, the sun has tinged them a warm pink swim in heaven. In which blessed and fair day, I have to make faces and speak bitter words to a man who has deceived me, it is true but who is poor, and older than I, and a kind of a gentleman too. On the whole, I prefer the massacre of weeds.
STEVENSON, "Vailima Letters," Vol. I. 444. Read the following passage carefully and make a list of the words that seem particularly well chosen :
The prospectus of the Dictionary he [Samuel Johnson] addressed to the Earl of Chesterfield. Chesterfield had long been celebrated for the politeness of his manners, the brilliancy of his wit, and the delicacy of his taste. He was acknowledged to be the finest speaker in the House of Lords. He had recently governed Ireland, at a momentous conjuncture, with eminent firmness, wisdom, and humanity; and he had since become Secretary of State. He received Johnson's homage with the most winning affability, and requited it with a few guineas, bestowed doubtless in a very graceful manner, but was by no means desirous to see all his carpets blackened with the London mud, and his soups and wines thrown to right and left over the gowns of fine ladies and the waistcoats of fine gentlemen, by an absent, awkward scholar,