Dec 12 2013

Rescued from the comments section


I wonder if people who don’t themselves comment, read the comments?


Anyway, this popped up in reply to my “Because Linguistics!” post of a couple of weeks ago,  when I talked about an article in All Things Linguistics, dealing with the “Because Noun” phenomenon.
My pal Brian felt moved to point out:

Brian Says:

We can improve:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
because ENGLISH!

Yeah, that’s a lot better.



To which I had to reply:

Were we each a Shakespeare, what wonders of wordsmithing
Would we then fling, undaunted, unparalleled. How we would vie
In the grace of our rhetoric. How we would sing,
Or declaim, or discourse.
Even our ranting would soar.

But we are what we are. When we try, and then fail,
as we sometimes must, we can at least hope,
From our common ground, from what we all know,
that the true understanding can still be approached
by that common address, by the known, by the shared.

We have breath, we have hands. Dreams old and new.
When we want it, history; when we recall, futures.

When our hope for contact outstrips our small skill,
Even then we persist, and attempt. Because Human.


(But, having done that, one of those lines looks awfully familiar.   I hope I didn’t inadvertently co-opt it from some better, wiser source!)