Word Play

Write.  Write when you have something to say.  But also, write when you have nothing to say.  Who knows what might fall out of your fingers?  Or run off your fingers?  Or, making your fingers the subject, who knows what they might…what is the present tense of wrought?  Is it wright? As in ‘playwright.’  Or ‘wainwright,’ if you prefer wagons to the theatre.  In which case, your fingers can both write and wright.  But your ears surely won’t know the difference, even if your eyes do. In other words, you can see what has been written, whereas you can hear what’s been wrought?  

For that something be written, one first must write.  For that something be bitten, one first must bite.  Yet one can also bite what has been bought.  But only because it’s a tad rude to bite what has been stolen. Though, in times of need, one might steal, that one may bite.  But one certainly wouldn’t want to bite steel.  

If a community has but one bicycle, to be shared by all, is it a common wheel for the common weal? And suppose this community should be by the sea, on whose shores dwell plump, seagoing mammals.  And suppose they should make such a mammal the symbol of their land.  Would they have their national seal upon their national seal?

Suppose further that the commerce of such a place was built upon the trade in these animal hides. Then must they sell seals.  Unless business were bad.  Then seldom would a seal be sold.  Or so I’ve been told.

For that something be told, one first must tell.  Well, I’ve heard tell of a bell, courageous in winter.  That is to say, bold against the cold.  Yet if that bell should, after many a year, come lose and plummet to earth, you must tell that it fell.  Though it would never be told that it fold, no matter how old.

Suppose then, that there were two bells.  The one which was built the first must be the elder, yet could it never itself be eld. And if this be true of bells, so must it be with berries.  Yet what is younger than an elderberry?  The cran, the rasp and the straw, to be sure.  

Now suppose you have a tisket, at tasket, a little yellow basket of strawberries.  And suppose you drop your basket, and the fruit thereof scatters hither and thither.  Your former strawberries would now be strewnberries.  Amusing perhaps, but not half so clever as Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury. Which thankfully still runs. Though when it eventually ends, must, of necessity, become Donesbury.

So long as it runs, it is Doonesbury.  And when it runs no more, it shall be Donesbury. But in hindsight, shall we say that so long as it ran it was Dansbury?  Which sounds like a town in Connecticut.  A place where, I think you’ll agree, manners are highly esteemed. In other words, the name of the the game in Connecticut is etiquette.  

That a male should conduct himself with proper etiquette, he is said to display good manners.  May we then conclude that for a female to do likewise, she would display good womanners?  In any case, etiquette in Connecticut.  But what is of prime importance further north?  That is to say, what’s the main thing in Maine?  

Whatever question one might ask in Maine, there’s only ever one answer.  “You can’t get there from here.”  It’s all you ever hear.  Or so I’ve heard.  I mean, of course, the past tense of hear; that’s ‘heard.’  Not to be confused with many a cow, which is, naturally, a herd. Whereas ‘flock’ is the word for many a bird.  Which, you must admit, is rather absurd.  

Ah, see the bird take wing. It flies.  Flies, however, are a nuisance.  But if we speak of yesterday, they both flew.  And indeed have flown many times afore.  The bird has wings, as does the fly, and so they fly.  The airplane has wings but no mind of its own, and so it is flown.  The leaf has neither wings nor mind of its own, and so, it is not flown but blown.  

And the leaf was blown because, of course, the wind blew.  Although the sky was blue.  ‘Tis true! And that which is true, must then be truth.  But the one who speaks many true things does not speak treeth, whether his mouth have but one tooth or many teeth.  

Suppose now that the one who says true things should inhabit but one tiny room.  Then the one who speaks truth lives in a booth.  Whereupon would we do well to name his abode The Sooth Booth. Let us suppose then that persons in distress should address themselves to The Sooth Booth.  And suppose further that upon hearing the truth, their troubles should be assuaged.  Then would the sooth soothe. 

But perhaps the truth might not assuage.  It may be, rather, that the truth would rouse one to anger.  In which case, one might be said to seethe at the sooth.  And should the worst transpire, and one should strain one’s muscles in a state of a rage, then one might be said to be seether sore.  These, then, are the two potential outcomes of hearing sooth.  Happiness, or seether sore.  One or the other.  That is to say, either or.

“Either or,” said the miner. “What do you mean?” I asked him. “I just want to strike it rich,” he said.  “I don’t care if it’s gold or silver.  Either or.” 

“Ah, I understand,” quoth I. “You don’t mean ‘either or,’ you mean ‘either ore’.”

“That’s right,” said he. “Either ore or ore.  So long as it’s ore.”  

I’m sorry to say, that for this poor fellow, it wasn’t so much ‘either ore’ but ‘neither nor.’  But for me, that’s neither here nor there. For, in the end, it was his mine, not mine.  And that’s the risk one takes in mining.  You might strike silver.  You might strike gold.  But just as like, you’ll strike neither ore nor ore.  

Ores are more important to a miner than are oars to a sailor.  After all, a sailor can work with wind as well as an oar.  That is to say, for the sailor, it’s either oar or wind. But of course, if one is to row, one needs two oars.  And yet, the oars are identical.  Any oar can be used just as easily by the right hand as the left.  So while it may be either ore for the miner, it is surely either oar for the sailor.

It is a difficult thing, rowing.  It is easier when one has help.  Ideally, one oarsmen will sit behind another.  In which case they row in a row.  And if they are strong enough, they might even drag another watercraft behind them. Whereupon do they row in a row with a boat in tow.

And if the following boat is connected to their own boat by some sort of cable or rope, then it must be said that they not only tow the boat, but that they tow the line as well. Whereas, if it is the policy of their shipping company to tow other boats, and they do adhere happily to this policy, then we must admit that not only do they tow the line but also that the toe the line.

But do they do so because they agree with company policy?  Be that the case, then they toe the line because they think it fine.  Conversely, if they adhere to such practices because they dread punishment, then we must admit that they toe the line because they fear a fine.  Fine or fine? That is the question.

Write when you have something to say, I said.  Write also when you have nothing to say, I also said.  I think have done both.  I have written.  The apple has been bitten, the beast smitten.  Should not then a small kite be a kitten?  A small glove a glitten?  A bat flies, as does a dove.  Yet it’s a cat that’s kitten and a glove that’s a mitten.  English is fine thing.  And this post is now Donesbury.  

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