Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Chiasmus

Something spooky is going on with this post. Last week I wrote it and tried to pre-post it to appear on April 3rd. But guess what? It published on March 29th. I couldn't figure out what I'd done. The date on the posting plainly said, April 3rd.

So on the day when the A to Z Challenge started I posted my blog, but this one remained. I finally deleted it. Now I'm reposting. Sorry for the mix up.

On to this posting. A chiasmus is a pattern of writing in which the second half of the sentence balances with the first and reverses. Here's some wonderful examples:

"You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget." --Carmac McCarthy, The Road, 2006.

"I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction's job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." --David Foster Wallace.

The master of chiasmus was William Shakespeare.

"That one for all, or all for one we gage." --The Rape of Lucrece, (1594)

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." --King Richard II (1595-94)

"What would you have? Your gentleness shall force more than your force move us to gentleness." --As You Like It (1599-1600)

I know when I first posted this blog I had other examples of chiasmus, however before I deleted my first posting I copied it, but when I tried to paste it NOTHING was there.

This posting is very "Outer Limits" for me, thus I think it fitting that I end Shakespeare's quotes with something from Macbeth.

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air." --Macbath (1606)

Okay, what famous chiasmus do you remember?



  1. I didn't know that was called a chiasmus! Thanks for teaching me something new. I see this all the time but I can't think of one off the top of my head!

    1. Laura,
      It's a cool word, isn't it? One of the most famous that I didn't include was from President Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Or something like that. :)

  2. I can't think of a single chiasmus but loved your examples. I'm thinking that when the wrong key or sequence of commands is used in working with computers, the page that becomes blank remains a blank page. Sigh. This happens, thankfully not too often!

    1. Beth,
      That's a great explanation of what could have happened when I tried to copy and paste. Thanks!



Related Posts with Thumbnails