Bulletin Board, excerpt

It was of the first lines, it was of the last lines

From (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board, May 12 & 13, 2005

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It was of the first lines, it was of the last lines … (responsorial)

Inspired by The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills' fascination with the opening and closing lines of "A Tale of Two Cities" and their oft-copied, oft-parodied spread throughout our culture, Poet X of PDX writes: "Subject: Famous Last Words.

"They may not equal the number of parodies or references as Dickens and 'Tale,' but these famous literary endings we know (or should) would probably come in close 'behind':

"'God bless us, everyone.' (Dickens again!) [Bulletin Board muses: Is it just coincidental that our category about Fine Opening Lines was — and is, of course — "Great Expectations"?]

"The final scene of 'Gone With the Wind' also comes to mind: 'As God is my witness, I'll never go hungry again' — or something to that effect. [Bulletin Board says: That, or something to that effect, is not at the end of the book, but in Chapter XXV. Scarlett has fled the burning Atlanta, returned to Tara and found it in tatters: "Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud: 'As God is my witness, as God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill — as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again.' " The book ends, at the end of Chapter LXIII, with Scarlett's talking to herself: "I'll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara. I can stand it then. Tomorrow, I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day."]

"And, in the realm of the poetic, T.S. Eliot closed his poem 'The Hollow Men': 'This is the way the world ends /Not with a bang but a whimper' (maybe more referenced and parodied than the Dickens!)."

It was of the first lines, it was of the last lines … (responsorial)

Here, again, is Poet X of PDX: "Subject: 'Gone With the Wind' correction.

" 'Tomorrow is another day!' Of course! I knew the ending was much-referenced, just recalled the wrong citation. [Bulletin Board reminds: Poet X had recalled "… never be hungry again" as the novel's conclusion.] That 'As God is my witness' speech is so stirring — especially to us in the job-search line.

"I was in high school when I read the book and have yet to see the movie (does it end with 'As God is my witness…'?) [Bulletin Board says: No — but "… I'll never be hungry again" ends the first half of the movie, leading into the Intermission], other than the ubiquitous clips from various documentaries, etc., over the years.

"I'd try to think of other 'famous last words,' but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

BULLETIN BOARD OFFERS A BIT OF ADVICE: Take the road less traveled by. That'll make all the difference.