As softly as …

As softly as …

What a place, what a time, the two idyllic years Durrell spent in Rhodes after the war.  His account is full of lyrical descriptions of scenes and sounds, and what could be more enchanting than having your days drop in as he describes. In Rhodes the days drop as...
Mineral metaphor

Mineral metaphor

Saint-Exupery takes your breath away with the originality of his metaphors.  That peace is greater than the sum of its parts is one thing, but to liken that to minerals assembling in the ground to form a tree shows the complexity of that sum of parts. Peace is present...
As fabulous as …

As fabulous as …

A marvelously original simile for ‘fabulous’, found in this slim, exquisitely written book by Saint-Exupery.  Something resonant in that phrase, the ‘immensity of the sea’, particularly as a description of expanding a boy’s mind through...
A dam snake

A dam snake

Infrastructure likened to a curling serpent, whereas most serpentine similes I’ve seen have been speed-related.  See Tarka the Otter, Christopher Logue’s War Music and Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan…. the great grey dam curled up in the sun like a...
As ancient as …

As ancient as …

As a simile for ‘ancient’ you could use a range of places and races, but here the intoning of the prayer makes ‘Jewish’ particularly appropriate.  In other contexts, we could say as ancient as China; as ancient as Babylon; as ancient as a...
As puny as …

As puny as …

An ideologically committed army officer expects her child to be born robust and struggle-ready, and is disappointed by his neo-natal vulnerability and apparent weediness.  She soon abandons him to the care of the poor family who provided her with a room in which to...
Like fluid sculptures

Like fluid sculptures

A fine idea to describe a flotilla of sail boats, as liquid sculptures, and note too that passing flock of egrets whose appearance is likened to a ripple of applause. On the river egrets break upon the skyline in a blinding ripple of applause, disturbed by a flotilla...
Folded in

Folded in

Something about this loose, large mixing of sky into sea that evokes a huge basin in which a celestial cake of light, air and water is being made.  I arrive late one night beneath a loose black sky lazily folded into the sea. Source: Justin Marozzi, The Man Who...
Sitting pigeons

Sitting pigeons

You can see these pigeons plumply decorating the trees – we have wood pigeons who bill and coo in the branches, and indeed, they bring a soothing sense of fattened plenty with them. The pigeons were sitting in the trees like fattened Christmas...
Over-qualified

Over-qualified

A simile for someone being over-qualified for a given task.  From Nicolson’s enchanting book about Sissinghurst.      It was like having the engineer on the Aswan dam supervise the building of your pond.  Why was he doing it?Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst:...
As an apple fits a dumpling

As an apple fits a dumpling

A beautiful simile for something fitting perfectly into a circular space.  In this case, the something is a someone, the marvelous Mij, an otter celebrated by Gavin Maxwell. Mij mastered taps and baths, and it was hard to keep him away from them.  Mij had an instant...
Late for school

Late for school

A delightful simile for a late-landing spring, that of a boy running to school.   It also reminds me of another description of a delayed spring bounding in.  It was the end of April, and the belated spring was flushed and warm, like a youngster who has run all the way...

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