Tuesday with Thalia: Winning Words

Lovelies, I am not feeling especially clever today. So I am taking here the path of least resistance and interpreting this to mean “words and phrases that I love.” I know that there are lots of other interpretations. I look forward to reading about them. But for today, bear with me, my friends, and let me share some delicious phrases.

I am an insatiable connoisseur of tasty words. If you don’t know what I mean, I can only conclude that you had a barren and dusty childhood which warped your soul into an unhealthy shape. Some words taste really, really good when you say them! Here is a sample drawn from an endless supply of Tasty Words.

sphygmamanometer, bumbershoot, cudgel, pith.

Chant those for a while and get a feel for the flavor, the rhythm, the feeling. Then get back to me, cretinous one.

Anyway, my favorite phrases and words from books share a few things. Strong imagery, lyric rhythm and the music of sound are important. There is also a deepseated need for style. Style, the indefinable quality that distinguishes artistry from pedantry.  Hwaet.

“I shrugged my shoulders, and burnt my boats.” The Pale Horse

“Once there was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“No more of comfort shall ye get/Save that the sky grows darker yet/And the sea rises higher.” Ballad of the White Horse. 

“Death smelled different in Russia.” A Time to Love, A Time to Die.

“There he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl.”  The Man Who Was Thursday

“….That meeting displeases me. I am going to pull that meeting’s great, ugly, mahogany-colored nose.” Ibid.

“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house. ” The Two Towers

“‘I knew it!’ said Peter. ‘Whoop! I knew it!! You blasphemed the aspidistra and something awful has come down that chimney!'”
Busman’s Honeymoon 

“Two Beggars said I could not miss my way!” Cymbeline 

“This is the forest primeval….” Evangeline


Off the top of my head, I can’t remember any more. I know there are many lines that I read which strike deep and sink into my heart. But they are archived for moments when I need them. These are the ones in the top files today. Do share your favoritest line of writing in the comments!


10 thoughts on “Tuesday with Thalia: Winning Words

  1. “I know there are many lines that I read which strike deep and sink into my heart.”
    You and me both. There are far too many to quote or name. I especially enjoyed “that the sky grows darker yet/And the sea rises higher” for I have been listening to the Ballad of the White Horse today, as I work. There’s a wealth of luscious language in that song. 🙂

    In salute to your generous word-offerings, I offer this:

    “But no one descended to the Traveller;
    No head from the leaf-fringed sill
    Lean’d over and look’d into his grey eyes,
    Where he stood perplex’d and still.
    But only a host of phantom listeners
    That dwelt in the lone house then
    Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
    To that voice from the world of men:”

    -From The Listeners, by Walter de la Mare

  2. “They passed down all the roads long ago, and the Red Bull ran close behind them and covered their footprints.” From Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, also one of my favorite books.

    • YES. As supremely difficult as it is to choose the most beautiful (to me) literary sentences/phrases/small passages, that book would probably have multiple entries on my list.

  3. Also, I like your term Tasty Words. To those you’ve listed I add: derelict (doesn’t mean well, but it sounds amazing), flummox, gibe, tractable, lackadaisical, languish, neliferous, rapscallion, selenography, stumblebum, tatterdemalion, and wayfarer. And could add many more.

    “There he saw the sister of Gregory, the girl with the gold-red hair, cutting lilac before breakfast, with the great unconscious gravity of a girl.” The Man Who Was Thursday

    I…I totally know what the speaker is talking about. I really need to read this book, even more than I did before.

  4. Pingback: Conclusion « Egotist's Club

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