Tuesday, March 23, 2021

"I saw a bald eagle in the wild a few years ago, and to be honest, it looked, even as it flew over the snakey river and the murmuring pines and the hemlocks—Canadian trees, according to Longfellow, whose 'Evangeline,' is a poem of exile I adore—like a bigot."

Sentence of the Day. 

Sentence of the Day is a declaration I make now and then — certainly not every day — when I encounter a complicated and weird sentence. 

That's in "Of Mice and ICE" (at the Poetry Foundation). The author is Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb, an English professor at the University of Toronto, who teaches poetry and postcolonial theory and literature. She was writing in 2018, when the ICE problems were Trump's. 

I got there as a result of googling "beastie," a word I used in the previous post, about a fox, and have used now and again and again on this blog. 

A "beastie" is "A little animal; an endearing form of beast n. Also applied jocularly to insects. (Originally Scottish)" (OED). The oldest usage is in the Robert Burns poem that is referenced in that Poetry Foundation piece with the complicatedly weird sentence. 

Here's the Burns poem with "beastie" in the first line — "Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie."

Here's Longfellow's "Evangeline" — which begins "This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks...."

What other sentences have caused me to declare "Sentence of the Day"? There was this, in 2005:

"Plump couches, radical books, free WiFi, $5 microbrews, killer sound system, a menu that runs from catfish and collard greens to peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches: a cool, comfortable, slightly bourgy haven for a hot, bothered, slightly bourgy peace movement."

This, in 2017: 

"It is a mildly disconcerting experience, seeing conscious evolutions and experiments in style; baroque, ornate, urgent, dyspeptic; the repetitions and modalities at various points and the stylized categorizations and oppositions – prudes and perverts, monsters and insanity, measures and tests, inquiries and examinations, bodies and boys, punishment, pleasure, asceticism, suicide; the going back over old themes in new ways; how the old becomes new but how the new can never entirely disown the old; the desire for both fidelity in the evocation of moods and worlds, but not necessarily strict historical accuracy, whatever that might in the end be taken to mean; and the desire to write all this up somehow as a history of the present." 

And here's another 2017 example: 

"You know like any face I made when I was young was adorable and now if I’m worried there’s this pathetic gleam of how do I look and yet we love an old dog or an old leather couch so why not an old female arm or an ass all its own, speaking powerfully shabbily in time."

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