Thread: Dragon Age 2
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Old 03-16-2010, 09:41 PM   #31
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: The real world/ivory towers
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Current Game: Viking Warrior Poets
Why are clichés automatically a bad thing? There's a wonderful essay called, you guessed it, "Clichés" by the great critic Christopher Ricks on the power of phrases rubbed smooth by use: "The deliberate and responsible use of a cliché can foster critical self-consciousness; not a paralysed self-consciousness of the narcissistic kind that disappears into itself, but the kind that properly grounds its imaginative flights in the cliché's unservile acknowledgement that it is a cliché."

There are silences. These, too, they endure:
Soft comings-on; soft after-shocks of calm.
Quietly they wade the disturbed shore;
Gather the dead as the first dead scrape home. (from "The Guardians", Geoffrey Hill)

'Scrape home' is a triumph, though it winces at a defeat. It is unforcedly literal, 'scrape' being the dead body as like a keel that runs ashore, and 'home' being nothing but the truth. But in the gap between such a way of scraping home and our usual application (in American, scrape by? -- just winning, just safe, gulping with relief) -- in that gap is the appalling heart-break of the poem, the gap between what we always hope of life and what we often get.
The cliché is rotated into a new light and given new life. Might be worth thinking about. -- News and features will be returning shortly...

I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun,
And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.
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