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Sunday Scribblings #93: What is the Opposite of Wise Words?

The opposite of wise words do not necessarily have to be unwise or foolish words. Many times, they are simply other wise words! Do not believe me? Well, here is an example of one such pair of opposites:

  • Opposites attract. / Birds of a feather flock together.

And here is another:

  • Too many cooks spoil the broth. / Many hands make light work.

Or what about these?

  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder. / Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Look before you leap. / He who hesitates is lost.

As you can see, these proverbs seem to say the opposite. The beauty or the cool weirdness here is that we accept each one and quote it when the situation arises! Another thing that arises out of this is to maybe take everything we hear with a grain of salt. That raises a question: is there a saying that means the opposite of “grain of salt”?! Let me know.

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Notepad and a pen over it with a cup of coffee next to it. words read Sunday Scribblings, and this is for Sunday Scribblings #93: What is the Opposite of Wise Words?

Poetic Sundays: Parallelismus Membrorum

Today I selected Parallelismus Membrorum for Poetic Sundays. Specifically, I will be looking at antithetic parallelism in keeping with the theme of opposites that I touched on earlier. Why, you wonder? Apparently, it is National Opposite Day on the 25th of January, so, why not? Read on, and you will understand more about this device and my reasons for picking it.

What is Parallelismus Membrorum?

Parallelismus Membrorum is a poetic and literary device of traditional Hebrew origin, and often used in Biblical poetry. Robert Lowth coined this term in his 1788 book, Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrew Nation, and it simply means parallelism of members” (members referring to the lines of the poem). It is used in Biblical p

Parallelism gives usually two (sometimes more) clauses or line a similar form, thus giving the whole a pattern. It can be thought of as a “rhyming” of ideas and grammatical structure, rather than rhyming of words (though you can chose to have the words rhyme too, if you wish!)

There are a few different types of parallelism. Here is a quick overview of some of them:

  • Synonymous parallelism: the repetition of one idea in successive lines using different words.
  • Antithetic parallelism: the second part of the verse contrasts with the idea of the first
  • Synthetic Parallelism: the second part of the verse advances, builds upon an idea from the first part

Check the links in the Further Reading list below for more on the device and its various types.

How to Write Using Parallelism

Write using

  • couplets to showcase the idea with
  • short lines containing three to four words each
  • where lines follow similar or parallel grammatical constructs as much as possible
  • and the lines present contrasting and/or complementary concepts

The use of clauses or lines with similar grammatical structure automatically creates a regular rhythm and a specific meter (that the poet has picked for that first clause/verse/line).

Antithesis” is derived from the Greek term antitheton meaning “opposition.” Since our focus is on antithetic parallelism, we will be writing a poem with contrasting concepts placed side by side. In effect, antithetic parallelism is achieved by intentionally juxta positioning two contrasting concepts.

Examples of opposites from literature, poetry, and elsewhere:

  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness . . .” A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens
  • “To be, or not to be.”
  • “Some say the world will end in fire,/Some say in ice.” – Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  • Read William Blake’s “A Poison Tree
  • “This is one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong
  • I also loved this example from another poetic blog here.
Additional Notes/Tips for Antithetic Parallelism Memborum (or parallelism of opposites!)
  • Use other poetic devices to the best effect you can. For example, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, merism (parallelism with extremes, like heaven and earth), simile and personification
  • While employing parallelism in grammatical structure, remember to keep grammar in mind!
  • Once you have an idea for your poem, make a list of related words along with their opposites (antonyms) to help you along
  • Hint: You can even use those proverbial opposites to get you started!

My Opposite Examples (well, first attempts!)

He/She/They-1
She was the sweetness
that “bittered” the brew.
He the gentle rain
that drowned the two.
She was an angel
and a vicious shrew.
He was a devil
disguised in saintly hues.
When apart, best of pals
but together, worst foes.

~Vidya Tiru @LadyInReadWrites

He/She/They-2
She was the bitterness
that sweetened the brew.
He the hurricane
that gently blew.
She the sweet beauty
who portrayed a shrew.
He the saint
in a beast’s suit.
When together, bliss
and apart was misery.
~Vidya Tiru @LadyInReadWrites

References, Further Reading, and h/t:

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Fire and Ice Yin and Yang; poetic sundays of opposites

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  • Literary birthdays this week include: Edith Wharton on the 24th; Robert Burns, Stephen Chbosky, Virginia Woolf, and W. Somerset Maugham on Jan 25th; Shannon Hale and Susan Griffin on the 26th of Jan; Lewis Carroll of Jan 27th; Susan Choi on Jan 28th; Anton Chekhov on the 29th of January; Robert McKee on Jan 30
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Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings

So dear reader, you have reached the end of this Sunday Scribblings! As always, I welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about this post. And do let me know if you plan to celebrate any of these mentioned celebrations this coming week/month?

Linking this to the Sunday Post over at the Caffeinated Reviewer and the Sunday Salon

10 thoughts on “Sunday Scribblings #93: What is the Opposite of Wise Words?

  1. That’s a really lovely poem. You have shared so many poetic forms that were unfamiliar to me. And I thought I knew poetry!

    And I should be able to tell you a phrase that means the opposite of “a grain of salt,” but nothing is coming to me.

  2. Parallelism in poetry is so interesting. I think it really makes the poem more powerful. I really like your examples because they helped me to understand the concept as a whole. The only thing that comes to mind while thinking of the opposite of “grain of salt” is “a lot of pepper” but I don’t think that counts as a saying!

  3. I love that today is literally Opposite Day! We used to pretend this was a real thing back in the day. I absolutely love the poems you came up with with your opposite words.

  4. I enjoyed your Poem and will be having my son read the post in our Language Arts Class this morning and see if he can come up with his own Poem. Lordy, lordy this is going to be one fun class. Not LOL Thank you for always keeping me on my toes and giving me ideal to use in my son’s classes because a teachers work, or mom is never ever done.

  5. So interesting to learn about Parallelism and different parts of poetry. My friend just published his first book of poetry and it is nice to learn something new.

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