Famous Starts

Famous starts, but instead of a Humble Ending, let’s do another Internal Comparison.

I’m taking all the starter sentences today from Edna St. Vincent Millay. I found hers harder to do than the Merwin ones. Oddly, I think this is because she is so precise in her word choice and clear in her meaning. You’d think that would make it easier, but somehow it didn’t.

Feel free to play along, and remember – this is practice, so this will probably (definitely) suck. The goal is to make an internal comparison, not a story completion or extension. Technically, there should be a spark of surprise, but I’m not good enough at this yet to do that.

  • Time does not bring relief, you all have lied.

    Narcissus collects the yellowing petals from the shore.

    My diary grows heavy with ink, but has yet learned to speak.

  • Safe upon the solid rock, the ugly houses stand.

    Do you pick the prettiest pumpkin to make your jack o’lantern?

    The wealthy man died solvent with no hand to hold.

  • My candle burns at both ends.

    The morning rush in evening heels.

  • We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.

    We knew the lines of our argument by heart.

    The typewriter bell rings, another draft hidden in a drawer.

When I did the Narcissus one, I was happy with it, but after letting it sit, I’m not sure it works. I should maybe have chosen Demeter sucking her teeth by the fire or something?

The word ugly challenged me. I understood her meaning, but couldn’t get my own thinking to line up straight alongside for a reflection. The pumpkin one seems more of an inverse, and the wealthy man one feels too moralizing.

I spent more time than I’d care to admit on the candle. Look, she says it best, and I’m not sure how to say it a different way AND be surprising. This one almost felt like trying to complete the NYT crossword puzzle. I’m sure there are lots of people out there smart enough to do it – I am not one. (I’ll keep trying.)

I like the last two. I don’t love them? But, I think they might be the better of the bunch.

Okay, your turn. Did you come up with any lines? Will you share?

2 thoughts on “Famous Starts

  1. There are plenty of fish in the sea, but the whales sink to the bottom.

    The punch bowl was the better dance partner.

    The world turns, as I remain stoic.

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