Being Rhetorical!

I will forever be in debt of Mark Forsyth. For it was his innovative book – The Elements of Eloquence – on rhetorical figures that set me on a greater curve in learning and understanding literature and not only of English language but also of Hindi and Sanskrit. Not that I hadn’t read about rhetorical figures before I read his book but the significance and ease of applying these indispensable tools of language were not made clear to me in the fashion Mark Forsyth did through his wonderful book. I have read this book – cover to cover – thrice. I also use it as a handy reference now. So, I might have gone through some chapters tens of times.

While reading this book time and again and while reading authors who make liberal and mesmerising use of rhetorical figures, I have come to mark some rhetorical figures as my “favourite”, and actively seek them and analyse that how varyingly they have been applied by different authors. Here, I will list my favourite rhetorical figures:

1. Alliteration 

This rhetorical figure is my most favourite. This may seem simple to apply but one can make a joke out of himself/herself if this figure is not handled carefully and not applied with wisdom and genuine innovation/research. I have doubts too. How many repetitions make one call the pattern as “use of alliteration”? I consider that the repetition of the sound must at least be thrice to make a proper alliteration. Another confusion is how long the interval should be between two consecutive utterances of the sound? Unfortunately,  I have no answer to that. Some examples:

Full fathom five thy father lies – [from Ariel’s Song]

From forth the fatal loins of these two foes – [from Romeo and Juliet]

Apart from Shakespeare, Charles Dickens was a big fan of alliteration e.g., The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. 

2. Periodic Sentences

This is the rhetorical device that I use the most. This comes naturally to me. Does it tell something about me? Perhaps that I am a maniac who likes to pile noun up on noun and up on noun and noun further up on nouns and make the entry of verb and the object seem like climax of a thriller. Many of my sentences, the various blog posts that I have written, here and elsewhere, in praise or procrastination or to express my love to someone, or the one related to my love to English language, all serve as good examples of this rhetorical device. One famous example is Rudyard Kipling’s poem – If.

3. Diacope 

The most famous examples of use of this device are: A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!  and Romeo! Romeo, Wherefore art thou Romeo? . And of course, the most famous diacope of 20th century: Bond, James Bond. As one might have guessed, diacope is repeating a phrase or a word after a brief interruption. This makes the expression forceful and memorable.

4. Epistrophe 

Repeating same word, or same clause at the end of each sentence is epistrophe. With regards to paragraphs in succession, repetition of whole sentence in the end of each paragraph is epistrophe. When you become obsessed with ending sentences or paragraphs with same words, it is epistrophe. Your doctor may call it obsession but a linguist will say that it is epistrophe.

If I have to stress a point, I use epistrophe. If I have to show that I love someone immensely, I use epistrophe. If I have to irritate someone, I use epistrophe. If I have to sound humorous in a particular situation, I use epistrophe.

5. Syllepsis

This is a funny trope. I have often seen its usage or used it myself to humorous effect. Mostly, because in its most basic form, it’s a pun or indicates a pun or play on a particular word. I am here going to quote the example given by Mark Forsyth in the book:

“A shocking affair happened last night. Sir Edward Hopeless, as guest at Lady Panmore’s ball, complained of feeling ill, took a highball, his hat, his coat, his departure, no notice of his friends, a taxi, a pistol from his pocket, and finally his life. Nice chap. Regrets and all that.”

I try hard to use these figures of speech in writing but I am not able to do that quite often. Robert Louis Stevenson said that style is synthetic and I am not quite there yet. I hope, one day, I will be able to develop a style and use the rhetorical figures/devices frequently.

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Birth of a Poem

A poem, having no name, was enmeshed in a heart, waiting to break free from its shackles. While her verses floundered about the lips, she was being betrayed by her own words who were refusing to be put down on the foolscap. They were restless and desperate, and were changing with every moment, transforming into another and from another to yet another. The poem would live in one moment and die in the following, and then live again only to die in the following moment once again. One couldn’t tell whether there was a poem at all. 

The meter was absent for the rhythm was indifferent because of the ever changing words or rather for lack of words. Yet, the poem desired to live for she knew that if she managed to escape from the heart to a foolscap through a poet’s pen, she will live forever. She decided to set out on a mission to find a meter for the meter will seduce the rhythm, which will then string the words together so that they settle down, on the foolscap, in a rhythmic pattern. However, the capricious words needed something else so that they may take a definite pattern and give meaning to their meaning, and impart a form to the poem.

By serendipity, the poem realised that to cause her own birth, she needs to go deep inside the heart where she is enmeshed so that she may listen the words from a memory that has been buried alive deep inside the heart and then arrange those words in accordance with the mood and music of the memory. The poem undertakes the journey to the core. She went from deserts of despondence to the oceans of hope to finally find a memory that could cause her birth. The memory was stored in form of images, smell, a voice, a music and a unique taste. The poem went ahead. She embraced the memory and kissed it passionately. She sat down with it while memory whispered in her formless ears and the poem started to come alive. The mood of the memory set rhythm and meter of the poem.

The poem was no longer enmeshed. She now had her separate existence. A unique life with record of only one memory in words stringed in rhythmic pattern.  She was now ready to take form and hence, the poem was born.

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The Souvenir

It was one of those wonderful nights,

when her head still

used to rest against my chest;

And when my heart would play

all kinds of music to her,

which she probably heard too.

And this souvenir suddenly slipped,

from her hair, to around my wrist

and has stayed there ever since.

Sometimes it hides underneath

the red Kalava threads on my wrist

yet still visible…

Sometimes, it climbs up on my right arm,

at times, it slips down to its wrist.

It refuses to slip away…

it plays on my arms, with my arms

hiding, revealing, moving – itself..

like there’s a person living on my arm

it has a heart that beats,

it speaks to me at times,

it has a vision that often ignores me

it has a skin that feels me at times..

it is probably deaf all the time.

I wonder if I give life to it, or

it gives life to me and

I am the person growing on another person…

Everyday it is growing older and weaker,

and  I fear that it too,

under the everyday turbulent currents of water,

might someday snap…and two lives will perish.

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About the Unsaid

I have published 94 posts since I started blogging on this new platform. They have generally reflected the state of my mind and heart. The intervening period between them too reflects the same. The longest gap between two posts was of 4-5 months. There was a time when I wrote a weekly diary, and there was a time I wrote my own ‘eulogy’. Then I had described my love for the English language. Here, I also worked on writing poems and sonnets. Sometimes, I indulged in my regular haughty, arrogant and inconsiderate self and published tosh. However, I still haven’t said all what I wanted to say or have got to say.

There are, as I write this, 89 drafts in my blogger. I sometimes wonder whether I will be able to publish those drafts ever. Some are quirky, some are bizarre, some betray my inbuilt arrogance, some expose it, some are herculean in task, some are as simple as algebra. There is a pending open letter to the open letters, and then there is incomplete essay on box and innovation. In one pending post, I uncover my personality and I have titled it “Uncovering”. There is a poem titled “As I collect” pending for I am not yet done done with collecting. There is a short story I titled – Beast of Burden – whose only three paragraphs I have written.

One day I talked to myself about story with no ends and the conversation is incomplete. Then there is a post seeking answer to fight or embrace the absurdity. There is a pending poem titled “Anomaly” pointing out ironies and anomalies, and then a collection of prose titled “Perplexed” at about the same time also lies pending. I started an essay, but humorous [and little scholarly], titled – Best Discoveries of All Time. The essay is yet to go beyond the list of 5 discoveries. Then there’s a pending “experimental version” of Sonnet LXVI. One pending posts roars about the “Need of a War Cry”. Then there are pending rumblings on death, aftermaths of breaking up, a poem on solitude titled “Fortress” and a long rant on “The Selfie”.

One post telling my favourite rhetorical devices has been left hanging in the air. I have an almost incomplete schizophrenic dialogue on “Regrets”. At one time, I indulged in, through way of writing, developing a process of forgetting. Then, there’s the writing about The Lament, a post explaining my “constant grudge”, and then a long pending rumbling against “Photography”.  A sonnet that I grandly numbered as III is still pending while one pending post describes my preferable way of dying. One meditation on “Vairagya” is also not complete and  so is post on how different professionals will express or profess their love on Valentine’s Day. I have a grand post pending titled as “Review of Mankind”.  The Queen of ALL pending posts is named-“How to kill people non-violently: A lecture on peaceful and pragmatic misanthropy”.

In the end of it all, I have only one thing left to say:

How many posts must a (wo)man publish, before you could call him/her a writer? 

The answer, my friend, is buried in the drafts; the answer is buried in the drafts. 

So long!

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The Secret Password Is: Thanks!

Originally posted on From Crazy With Love:

Another Friday is upon us folks. And I did know today is Friday but only because I’m positive tomorrow is Saturday. I didn’t know my Wednesday or Thursday at all this week.

Since it is Friday I wanted to kick-off the weekend with a big THANK YOU to all of you.

Besides reading my attempts at stringing words together in the hopes of forming things that resemble sentences and even possibly little stories (a girl has to hope), why thank us, you ask?

Unbeknownst to you, my fellow travellers, I had a tough yesterday, a total freak out, to be honest. A hello-darkness-my-old-friend type of day. But (always a but), last night I sat and scanned through my reader on here. I saw beauty and wonder, poetry, stories, lovely photos, and awe-inspiring ideas…all at the click and scroll of my mouse. I regained my footing because of all of you…

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