More plentiful than …

More plentiful than …

An ambiguous metaphor for plenty, since it is entirely subjective whether you consider hope to be plentiful or not.  In other words, this is only a relative plenty. See other hope related metaphors and similes, such as Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot or Vasily...
Six ways to get lost

Six ways to get lost

This is from The Little Clay Cart, a Sanskrit play probably composed around the 2nd century BC, and commonly attributed to a possibly mythical king and playwright called S(h)udraka.  I liked the rambling explanation of the simple word ‘lost’ through half a...
Sticking like a burr

Sticking like a burr

I’ve heard people describe someone as sticking like glue, or like Velcro, and burrs were the original inspiration for this modern sticky material. Woodnoth, then, was a bit of a boring hanger-on of the poet George Herbert. ‘Woodnoth sticking to Herbert...
The press and vice

The press and vice

An extraordinary and vivid image of sin as something that forces pain to infiltrate every vein.  Given the more pious age in which Herbert wrote, and his own great piety, I found this arresting and thought-provoking. It also neatly concatenates the two meanings of the...
Good strong tea

Good strong tea

A novel way to signal strong tea, its being so solid that it can support a mouse’s weight.  The more common version of the same idea has the tea ‘so strong you could stand a spoon up in it’. For another tea-related simile, less innocuous, see Mervyn...
An aching loss

An aching loss

The occasional ache of something long lost – Leigh Fermor’s likening it to an old wound; more less healed, but can still give you gip on a bad day. ‘The loss of the journal still aches now and then like an old wound in bad weather.’ For a...
The taste of brass

The taste of brass

You can feel it can’t you – that cold-surface metallic sensation in your mouth?John Keats fell in love and fell fatally ill within a short period of time, parting definitively from Fanny Brawne when it was concluded that the best chance he had of surviving...
The backward bin

The backward bin

John Keats’ letters are full of wry humour and playfulness, interwoven with a rage to live and frustration and despair at the TB which killed him within a few years. Here, writing to his beloved Fanny Brawne, I delighted in his offering to be to her as wine in...
A protagonist in a lost world

A protagonist in a lost world

This suggests an expansive speaker with vast ideas; one who embraces the world, makes perorations rather than utterances, and generally waves his arms about as he speaks.Miller is a master of refreshing metaphors and similes. ‘He always talked against a...
A warm Asiatic smile

A warm Asiatic smile

You can feel the warmth of this beaming smile, lighting up someone’s face, feeling like a loving arm wrapped about their shoulder. ‘That warm Asiatic smile which always spread over his face like nectar and ambrosia.’ See George Eliot for another...
On illusory madness

On illusory madness

A fine description of Mervyn Peake’s balance between bounding imagination and taut writing, rounded off with a vintage metaphor. ‘It remains essentially a work of the closed imagination, in which a world parallel to our own is presented in almost paranoiac...
Scepticism on legs

Scepticism on legs

A delightful accusation of a doubting Thomas, his whole body an agglomeration of questions and disbelief. ‘Truly, you are a walking interrogation and disbelief endowed with arms.’   Source: Jose Saramago, The History of the Siege of Lisbon, trans....
Slow words emerging

Slow words emerging

A halting mode of speech, the words slow-emerging, like the tearing of pages from a long-closed book. That is how Dante’s translator presents us with the first encounter with Virgil, who would be his guide through much of his journey.   ‘His words...
All-encompassing flow

All-encompassing flow

The cadence of this metaphor has the abundance and freshness of clear, flowing water. It likens Virgil, whom Dante views as the poet who taught him how to write, to multiple sources of inspiration: spring, well, fountain and river. This liquid idea cascades naturally...

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