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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Joe_F Good lines/ bad song (6) RE: Good lines/ bad song 02 Mar 06

In 1959, when I began my 3 months at Harvard, I went to an orientation meeting where I was given, among other things, a sheet of Harvard football songs. In "Fair Harvard" I marked the line "First flower of their wilderness! Star of their night!" Some years afterward, I wrote:

This is a beautiful line, which some negligent muse saw fit to bestow on an incompetent who has not even bothered to provide it with a rhyme. Its charm lies in the parallel between the 2 metaphors -- one flower in the wilderness, one star in the sky. But in fact this effect was probably contrary to the author's intention: he spoils it by attaching a modifier in the next line ["Calm rising through change and through storm!"] that can belong only to the 2nd image (tho punctuated as if it belonged to both). Indeed, by "flower" he most likely meant not the concrete count noun (= organ of plant), but the abstract mass noun (= fair result). To rewrite the song around this line wd be a good exercise for the senior class some year.

--- Joe Fineman

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