Friday, August 27, 2010

A Few of my Favorite Things....

Intricate ways to turn words into soul stirring nuggets of inspiration are high on my list of just plain awesome.

Imagine my delight when discovering Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, Updated and Expanded Edition written by the legendary word smith William Safire opens with a short succinct introduction on the use of the contrapuntal turnaround with two very powerful examples...

Lincoln used it in switching the cynical "Might makes Right" to the moral "Right makes Might"

and

John Kennedy did the same with "never negotiating out of fear" into "never fear to negotiate."

These simple but effective contrapunts of the English language move hearts to attention creating that zinging sound bite that can tip the tides of history.

That my friends is what gets nerdy writers excited!

One of the most inspiring speeches of all times delivered by Abraham Lincoln on the occasion of our Civil War is a master stroke of effective efficacy.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, Updated and Expanded Edition



















These 266 Words Delivered.... Beautifully. Shaped all that would follow.
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Growing up in Pennsylvania offered many rich historical influences to shape my young life, to be sure, but the fifth grade class trip to Gettysburg is one that colors my heart so deeply and still speaks to me so clearly is one I will never forget. The voices that whispered off the grass covering the battle ground where so many lives were lost in defense of the truth as we walked across and through the gravestones wanted no one to forget.


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