For reasons unclear to me, as I was driving to work, some lines from Alexander Pope’s stupendously long poem, An Essay on Criticism, popped into my head. I would like to say that the poem is roughly 362 pages long, and I only read up to these lines, which occur very soon into the poem. I mean, I’m sure I “read” this poem, but only if “read” is defined loosely as “slept five minutes, forgot entire meaning, read five minutes, slept five minutes, forgot entire meaning, repeat for six weeks.” The whole thing is written in couplets. Reading it was like riding on a bouncing stagecoach. Anyway, the lines are: ”Unfinished things, one knows not what to call,/Their generation’s so equivocal.”
What impresses me now is that Pope pulled off rhyming “not what to call” with “equivocal.” I mean, really. ” Call” doesn’t truly rhyme with equivocal. But when you make a line out of those four words (“not what to call”) you get something that rhymes with equivocal and doesn’t sound stupid. What must have been floating around in his head, waiting to become a rhyme I cannot even begin to imagine.
But I digress. What I really have today is a question. I am curious about what pops into people’s heads. This is the first time I can remember that actual poetry appeared. Mostly what comes to me when I’m driving to work is either (a) something someone said to me once that so shocked me that I still think about it (for example, a boyfriend, on his sexual responsibilities: “I am not a service station,”) or lines from pretty much any song on Bridge Over Troubled Water (“still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest”)
What lines of poetry or dialogue or description or wisdom or insult pop up in your head with some regularity?