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A challenge: guess this week's theme

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October 14, 2002, 06:39
A challenge: guess this week's theme
What is the theme of this week's seven words?

craven - characterized by abject fear; cowardly. (noun: a coward)
Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us … no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a better place to live in …
-- Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not A Christian

[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Mon Oct 14th, 2002 at 8:42.]
October 14, 2002, 21:18
What is the theme of this week's seven words?

mien - Bearing or manner, especially as it reveals an inner state of mind: "He was a Vietnam veteran with a haunted mien." (James Traub)
Looks sell books. It's a closed-doors secret in contemporary American publishing, but the word is leaking out. Not that you have to resemble Denzel Washington or Cameron Diaz, but if you can write well and you possess the haute cheekbones of Susan Minot, the delicate mien of Amy Tan or the brooding ruggedness of Sebastian Junger, your chances are much greater.
-- Judged by Their Back Covers by Linton Weeks, Washington Post, July 2, 2001

October 15, 2002, 21:54
pallid - 1. of abnormally pale or wan complexion 2. lacking intensity of color or luminousness 3. [metaphorically] lacking radiance or vitality; dull: pallid prose
Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of "touching" a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.
-- G. K. Chesterton

October 16, 2002, 19:43
obeisance - 1. an attitude of deference or homage 2. a gesture, such as a curtsy, expressing that attitude

The word in poetic use:
The only business of the head in the world is to bow a ceaseless obeisance to the heart.
-- W. B. Yeats

October 17, 2002, 20:27
censer - A vessel in which incense is burned, especially during religious services. related to incense. Not related to one who censors literature or who subjects misconduct to censure.

The word in use:
But Al-Murshid, who affects the beard and robes of a pious zealot, … held a press dinner where he was photographed being led into the room by a servant carrying a censer, waving the perfumed smoke before him as if he were some ancient Oriental potentate.
-- Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland in Newsweek, July 22, 2002

October 18, 2002, 08:13
I'll take a WAG at it.
Is it comonly mispelled (sic) words ?
I can't think of any other link between them.

si hoc legere scis nimium eruditiones habes

Read all about my travels around the world here.
October 18, 2002, 17:48
Sounds good to me, Bob. Although I would probably misspell most of the words that come up in this section anyway! I am really stumped here!
October 19, 2002, 09:34
Not so, Bob, but in fairness to you, this theme may be less familiar to those on your side of the pond.

nepenthe- 1. a drug mentioned in the Odyssey as a remedy for grief; hence 2. something that induces forgetfulness of sorrow or eases pain.
made earth like heaven; nor pride,
Nor jealousy, nor envy, nor ill shame,
The bitterest of those drops of treasured gall,
Spoiled the sweet taste of the nepenthe, love.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound, Act III Scene IV.

October 19, 2002, 13:11
Never thought for a moment that it would be right - I just thought someone ought to have a go before the week ended.

si hoc legere scis nimium eruditiones habes

Read all about my travels around the world here.
October 19, 2002, 18:31
surcease - (noun) cessation
(verb, trans. & intrans.) to bring or come to an end; stop
Laughter is the tonic, the relief, and the surcease for pain."
-- Charlie Chaplin
I'll give you a couple days to puzzle over the theme and post any speculations. Then, the answer will appear here. smile
October 19, 2002, 19:17
jerry thomas
E. A. Poe used these words when he wrote "The Raven"
October 19, 2002, 19:42
Jerry! big grin You done good! Wonderful! I hope we see some more of your posts here.

Wordcrafter, great idea here, it was fun trying to guess! I was trying to come up with the answer on this one!
October 19, 2002, 19:48
jerry thomas
The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore -

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping - rapping at my chamber door.

"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -

Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow

From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -

For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -

Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain

Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -

Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -

This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly yours forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping - tapping at my chamber door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you" - here I opened wide the door: -

Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore!" -

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore! -

Merely this and nothing more.

Then into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,

Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before.

"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;

Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -

Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore; -

'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.

Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -

Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -

Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore -

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,

Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;

For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being

Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above this chamber door -

Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,

With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only

That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.

Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered -

Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before -

On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before,"

Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,

"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,

Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -

Till the dirges of his Hope the melacholy burden bore

Of 'Never-nevermore.'"

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,

Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;

Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking

Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -

What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore

Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing

To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;

This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining

On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,

But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,

She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.

"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!

Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -

Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,

Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -

On this Home by Horror haunted - tell me truly I implore -

Is there - is there balm in Gilead? tell me - tell me, I implore!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil - prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,

It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore.

Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting -

"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!

Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting - still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a Demon that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted - nevermore!

(First Published in 1845)
October 20, 2002, 14:49
Welcome to our board, Jerry! I, too, hope to see more of your posts. And, you're from such a wonderful state--Hawaii!
I was looking for links to the meaning of these words; I wouldn't have thought to look for a particular piece containing all the words. Just wondering--did you find it by knowing "The Raven"; or did you find it by googling the words and finding "The Raven" link? Great job, Jerry!
October 20, 2002, 16:53
jerry thomas
I decided a few years ago to prepare to "orally interpret" The Raven and some other works of Poe, a job which entailed seeking the meanings of the elements of Poe's rich vocabulary.

One result of my efforts: Last year I was visiting with the Guidance Counsellor at the High School in my old home town, Galena, Kansas. I told her, "I have a 50-minute one-man Poe Show that I'd be delighted to present to an English class." Three days later I made the presentation, not to an English class, but to all 160 members of the entire student body!

I have decided to make one small change in Poe's masterpiece the next time I have a High School audience. To lift the audience out of its melancholy state, I plan to end the penultimate stanza thus:

"And then I heard that damned bird say,
"No way, José ! I'm here to stay!"

Thanks to my audience here for letting me post the whole poem. I had feared that it might be TOO much.
October 20, 2002, 17:48
Well done, Jerry! And welcome!