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Chapter and Verse

Correspondence on not-so-famous lost words

July-August 2011

Jessica Pierce asks whether anyone can identify the origin of the expression “to die like an animal.”

More queries from the archive:

A description of nationalism as “the religion of an extremely high percentage of mankind an extremely high percentage of the time.”

“Good men and bad men/Lying in their graves—/Which were the good men/And which were the knaves?”

An original source for the motto “Adopt, adapt, and adept.”

“If it is a university, it cannot be Catholic; if it is Catholic, it cannot be a university.”

“The scent of woodsmoke in an April lane…”

A poem in which the poet (Robert Graves?) points with pride to his volumes of prose but will not say why he wrote them, lest he commit the absurdity of the man who bred cats because he loved dogs so much (or bred dogs because he loved cats).

Who coined the phrase “the moving edge”?

A musical satire on trendy clergymen, to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Tit Willow,” with the refrain, “We’re with it, we’re with it, we’re with it.”

“What was Karl Marx but Macauley with his heels in the air?” (May-June). Dan Rosenberg located this remark by William Butler Yeats, first requested in the March-April 1995 issue, in the poet’s collection On the Boiler, in the essay “Tomorrow’s Revolution” (part iv, page 19), (Cuala Press, Dublin, 1939).

“What her rugged soil denies/The harvest of the mind supplies” (May-June). Andre Mayer and Dan Rosenberg tracked this reference from the March-April 1995 issue to the “sweet New England poet” John Greenleaf Whittier. The poem, titled “Our State” on page 114 of the Complete Poetical Words of John Greenleaf Whittier (1884), is described elsewhere as “Originally entitled ‘Dedication of a School-house.’ It was written for the dedication services of a new school building in Newbury, Mass.”