Dive in, splash around, skim and dip and spout about the latest quotations, metaphors, words and, of course, triologisms. You’ll feel better for it!

Up hill and down dale

Up hill and down dale

Gavin Maxwell chose to live in a remote house on a remote island in Scotland. Here he describes the extraordinary efforts made by the local postman...

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A quote to note

Drawing on thousands of sparkling, moving and inspiring quotations amassed during decades of attentive reading. To delight your mind and spirit and improve your presentations beyond belief.

Complexity needs simplicity

Complexity needs simplicity

I liked this comment by a senior US army officer at an early Covid-19 briefing, though not sure how easy it is to deliver. This is an unbelievably...

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An encounter with competence

An encounter with competence

One of the pleasures of reading Simon Winder, apart from his lightly worn, wit-woven erudition, is the passing comments regarding his failings and...

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Laying on a spread

Laying on a spread

You may have noticed that I can't resist descriptions of feasts, be it fine breakfasts, picnics, or other spreads.  Here are two of the most...

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Zoo architecture

Zoo architecture

Always curious about the unwritten books people ponder, and I like Winder's quirkiness in noticing this obvious gap in the market. If anybody could...

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Metaphorically speaking

More marvelous metaphors on Mondays … Monday, metaphor day.

Sea the colour

Sea the colour

I love different ways of describing eyes, and colours, and this one allows some range in its definition.  Blue or grey or green, or somewhere on...

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Emotions surfacing

Emotions surfacing

A delicate description of unexpressed feelings becoming strong enough to be palpable, like a scent in the room. 'Hurt and affection were so close to...

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Cryptic afterlife

Cryptic afterlife

Baron Franz von der Trenck (1711-49), despite dying young and in disgrace, somehow contrived to be preserved in long life unguents. I like the...

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Of besieged landscapes

Of besieged landscapes

An unusual simile to describe a highly fortified landscape with a troubled history.  For some wondrous word-paintings of beautiful landscapes in...

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Triologisms

Bringing you pithy, evocative imagery in the form of three-legged microcosms of meaning. Updated on Tuesdays … Tuesday, triologism day!  You’ll never see this day of the week in the same way again.

Ocean-grey eyes

Ocean-grey eyes

A lovely description of a woman's eyes but a woman who has a certain transparence to her, not a particularly strong or memorable individual, even if...

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Peat-dark waves

Peat-dark waves

A description of wild swans floating on the night sea. I like that Maxwell uses peat, a local material, to describe the nocturnal waves. 'All...

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Half-strangled tones

Half-strangled tones

For most of Banffy's Transylvanian Trilogy, Julie Ladossa is a vanished ghost of a woman, who left her husband and son for nobody quite knew what...

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Mist-hung mountains

Mist-hung mountains

For ten years or so, Gavin Maxwell spent as much time as he could living in a remote cottage in the bay of a Scottish island, lovingly described in...

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Shovel-shaped antlers

Shovel-shaped antlers

Recently saw a David Attenborough programme showing such flat-planed antlers. Here they are spotted in the forest regions of Transylvania. 'His...

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Iron-grey menace

Iron-grey menace

Sea-furies spinning into roaring squalls in minutes, crashing waves into the land like a ship's grey hull running aground. 'The suddenness and...

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Words

Sharing words that sparkle, appeal, intrigue or otherwise grab me, including in other languages. And adoring alliteration, words are added on Wednesdays… Wednesday, word day. See you back here then.

Gulch it down

Gulch it down

Mervyn Peake uses Rabelaisian vocabulary to describe the gargantuan appetites and appearance of Swelter, the castle cook in his Gormenghast trilogy....

Mummarella

Mummarella

You would know the 'true' octopus if you saw it, wouldn't you? Reading a book about Mediterranean seafood, Luiz learned that according to an...

Ullage of sunflower

Ullage of sunflower

Something about this word that you can roll around the mouth like a good swig of wine or cognac, the removal of which would result in its ullage in...

Cragfast

Cragfast

Stuck?  In a tight corner?  No going forward ... or back?  Call yourself Cragfast. A sheep cornered on a crag, to starve in the absence of rescue....

Gummocks

Gummocks

This glorious word being no longer current, I invite you to revive it the next time someone does something daft or useless. Perhaps combine it...

A pippin but not an apple

A pippin but not an apple

I always knew the word pippin to be a type of apple, but then came across a reference to 'the expression of his pippin face'. According to the OED,...

I find it moving that no literary text is utterly original, no literary text is completely unique, that it stems from previous texts, built on quotations and misquotations, on the vocabularies fashioned by others and transformed through imagination and use.  Writers must find consolation in the fact that there is no very first story and no last one.  Our literature reaches further back than the beginnings of our memory permits us, and further into the future than our imagination allows us to conceive, but that must be the only barrier.  

Source: Alberto Manguel, The City of Words, CBC Massey Lecture Series (Toronto: Anansi Press, 2007), p. 139

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