Puzzle #3: Lightning and Lightning Bugs
Mark Twain once said: The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.
Very true, and probably never truer than in the field of poetry where "the almost right word" can kill the tone, the rhyme, or the meter of the poem.
Take this, one of my most favorite "limericks" as an example...
There once was a poet from Japan
Whose limericks never did scan
When asked why this was,
He said, "It's because...
"I like to fit as many syllables in the last line as I possibly can!"
Clearly, that was a poet who had a hard time finding the right word, and so settled not just for the almost right word, but for a whole string of almost right words!
On a different note, here's a poem by Oliver Goldsmith, who seemed to do a little better at picking the right words. The poem is a teensy bit more depressing than the limerick, but at least it flows well!
When lovely woman stoops to folly
When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And learns too late that men betray,
What charm can soothe her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?
The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover
And wring his bosom, is - to die.
And by the way, the answer to this puzzle is lightning, not a lightning bug!
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