Category Archives: Poems, prose & song

Famous songs native to or translated into other languages

Can you guess which chart-topping song eventually enjoyed a popular French incarnation as “Bravo tu as gagné?” Or which famous songs started their commercial lives in French as “Le Moribond” and “Commes d’Habitudes” respectively? Do you know which two songs The Beatles decided to record and release in German? Read more about how these and other hit songs came to enjoy lives in multiple lingos …

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You guys, y’all and youse. Or yintz.

Is “you guys” no longer appropriate to use in our more enlightened gender-neutral speech? It has an undeniably male “twang” to it, that’s for sure. But how do modern English-speakers – especially female and non-binary folks – respond to that catch-all term used to conveniently and informally address a group of people in the absence of a genderless second person plural in standard English (which German-, Turkish- and Gaelic-speakers, among others, are lucky enough to have in their linguistic toolkits)?

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Amanda Gorman recites ‘The Hill We Climb’ at Biden inauguration

Poet Amanda Gorman reads her poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

“In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.” – Amanda Gorman

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Some words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the US, marking the birthday of the American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. King is known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience; he is also remembered for his eloquent words of truth and wisdom. Here are some of them.

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“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy

Glosso posts its annual Thomas Hardy poem on New Year’s Eve. The Darkling Thrush, originally called The Century’s End, 1900, was first printed in The Graphic on 29 December of that year. It describes a desolate world characterized by despair and hopelessness. Let the song of the thrush symbolize the hopes of planet Earth for a better 2021.

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
    The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
    Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
    Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
    The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
    The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
    Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
    Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
    Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
    Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
    His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
    And I was unaware.

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It’s Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

It’s National Talk Like Shakespeare Day!* Please teachest me to speaketh like Shakespeare, I heareth thee cry. You probably do already: if you say things like “send him packing”, “as good luck would have it”, “more fool you”, “neither here nor there”,  “mum’s the word”, or “the be-all and end-all”, then you’re doing pretty well in the Shakespearean language department: he was responsible for either coining or popularizing all those phrases.  Anyway, has’t no fear: Glossophilia cometh to the rescue, and we’re about to guide you through your online toolkit of Shakespearean-speak gadgets. Among Glossophilia’s favorites is Shmoop’s own Shakespearean Translator, which is just like Google Translate: Type anything into the box and “see it translated into super-authentic Shakespearean English”. Then there’s the Shakespeare Insult Kit, whose author Jerry Maguire (sic) was or is an English teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood Indiana. You’ll sound like a true Shakespearean villain when you hurl those concoctions out there. Another Glosso favorite is Shakespeare’s Words Thesaurus: “This is the opposite of the Glossary. When consulting the Glossary, you know the word and you want to find out what it means. When consulting the Thesaurus, you know the meaning and you want to find out which Shakespearean words express it. How would he say ‘arrogant’ or ‘companion’?'” Did you know that there’s a William Shakespeare Glossary on CliffNotes? And one on SparkNotes too? There’s a plethora of Shakespeare glossaries and dictionaries out there — and I mean plethora in its truest sense – to help you on your talk-like-Shakespeare quest. Here are just some of them … Continue reading

Pandemic poetry 5: A rhyme and a slogan from the Spanish flu

 

A cartoon published in “New York World” during the 1918 pandemic

During National Poetry Month, Glossophilia is posting poetry inspired by pandemics and virus outbreaks of yore. Today we bring you a public service slogan and a children’s rhyme.

During the 1918-19 Spanish flu pandemic, the Red Cross distributed gauze masks and enjoined the public to:

Obey the laws
And wear the gauze!
Protect your jaws
From septic paws!

And this children’s jump-rope rhyme was heard throughout the US during the height of the pandemic:

I had a little bird and its name was Enza
I opened the window and
in-flu-enza…

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