Sunday, February 21, 2010

Potential Mood

from English Grammar in Familiar Lectures by Samuel Kirkham (1835)

When I was a boy, the town I lived in would have a big Fourth of July celebration, beginning with the mail arrival by Pony Express in the morning, progressing to softball games, followed by a parade, a community picnic, and fireworks at the football stadium. Before the fireworks, while we waited for the July evening to get dark, we would all go to the free movie, sponsored by the local college. One time it was the 1959 film, "The Jayhawkers." In one scene, Fess Parker tries to help a young boy with his grammar lesson:
Parker: I ain't a-fixin' to; you ain't a-fixin' to; he, she, or it ain't a-fixin' to.
Boy: Ain't nobody a-fixin' to?

In that spirit, given the grammar lesson above, I would venture that (grammatically speaking) everybody may, can, or must love.

Any questions? Do I see a hand in the back?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


from Fourteen Weeks in Natural Philosophy by J. Dorman Steele, A. M., Ph.D. , 1872.

This passage is from a book I bought in an antique store in Marietta, Ohio, called FOUND. The proprietor of the store is an old college friend of mine, Chuck Swaney. I hadn't seen or talked to Chuck in more than thirty years but we located each other on Facebook and realized we lived just fifty or so miles apart. In visiting with each other, it seemed the years had fallen away, but we were, of course, talking to each other over that great distance as much as our memories were rekindled.

I don't know what metaphor the intricate description of the malleability of gold serves. When I came across it I thought maybe it stood in for art, or life, or maybe the passage of time, or the past itself. Maybe no metaphor at all. A vehicle with no tenor. Simply an apt expression of malleability.

I like the way it ends, though, with the gold leaf being placed between the pages of "little books"—as leaves, in fact, often are.