Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Topsy-Turveydom of Poetry

All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry. If we paused for a moment to examine the cheapest cant phrases that pass our lips every day we should find that they were as rich and suggestive as so many sonnets. To take a single instance: we speak of a man in English social relations 'breaking the ice.' If this were expanded into a sonnet we should have before us a dark and sublime picture of an ocean of everlasting ice, the sombre and baffling mirror of the northern nature, over which men walked and danced and skated easily, but under which the living waters roared and toiled fathoms below. The world of slang is a kind of topsy-turveydom of poetry, full of blue moons and white elephants, of men losing their heads, and men whose tongues run away with them-a whole chaos of fairy tales.

G. K. Chesterton, "A Defence of Slang" in The Defendant

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