Forums SCP Workshop Single line or couplet that haunts you because it is so perfect
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  • #30264 Reply
    Steven Shaffer
    0 Posts

    Is anyone else haunted by a single line or couplet that is just so freaking perfect that you think you should just give up writing altogether?

    Objectively, there may not even a good reason why, and yet you can’t help comparing everything to that line.

    In my case, I think I am pretty good at humor and wordplay, but I can never write a real “capture an image” line. So, for me, it is this couplet:

    She comes out of the sun in a silk dress run
    ning, like a watercolor in the rain

    Yes, this is a line from a song, but it draws such a beautiful picture that I can’t imagine writing something that expressive in such a short space.

    Anyone else have this problem?

    What single great line or couplet does this for you?

  • #30283 Reply
    Evan Mantyk
    0 Posts

    Indeed. It’s often from music isn’t it? I’m haunted by the line from Purcell’s opera Fairy Queen (with a libretto by Betterton) which goes “If love’s a sweet passion why does it torment?” I think it has something to do with the music having an emotional effect, which transcends words and becomes melded with the words. There is also that it touches a wide number people. Unfortunately, a wide number of people just aren’t seriously reading poetry today (a problem we are trying to fix). In general, people are more connected then they seem on the surface. If many people all read a line it actually resonates; there is a resonation field, for lack of a better term, that is actually activated.

    More lines that have stuck with me, not haunted so much:

    On either shore the gibbons chatter sounds without pause
    As my light boat skims past thousands of crags

    This is a Li Bai poem from the Tang Dynasty but delivered to large group of people in a modern context by someone I highly respect. It had a very powerful resonating effect on me, and others I’m sure.

    Just my two cents.

  • #30285 Reply
    Steven Shaffer
    0 Posts

    As you bring up lyrics vs poetry, I wonder about the difference – where is the line? Two songs that come to mind which to me are poetry first and songs second are Nevermind by Leonard Cohen and the Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald by Gorden Lightfoot. If we take words that are in a poetic form and put music behind them, do they cease being poems? I guess this calls to mind Beat Poets and bongo drums :-/

  • #30287 Reply
    Evan Mantyk
    0 Posts

    The standard I would use is the intent. Was this written to be sung or was this written to be read? What follows could be the reverse, reading the lyrics as poems or making poems into lyrics.

  • #31077 Reply
    Laura Donovan
    0 Posts

    thoughts stack up like a hoarder’s dream


    I thought of this after watching a show on hoarding. My kids tell me I think too much. For some odd reason, I thought of this for the longest time. Finally, it fell away until your prompt. Hope it’s not a vanity to offer my own line.

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