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Re: And yet...and yet...

Posted by Woodchuck on December 12, 2002

In Reply to: Re: And yet...and yet... posted by Bruce Kahl on December 12, 2002

: : hi, i'm the book critic of the san francisco chronicle, drawn here from google by your excellent treeing of the phrase 'weapons of mass destruction.' here's one that's been bothering me for a while: the now-ubiquitous repetitive phrase 'and yet...and yet...' where did it come from, and how did it become so inescapable?

: : btw, who are you guys? how do you do it? and can you reply via e-mail to dkipen@sfchronicle.com as well as on the bulletin board? i've got a newspaper column to fill in the next 3.5 hours, in case the answers are newsworthy and you're feeling especially industrious.

: : all finest,
: : david kipen

: We are an international group of volunteers who share a love and fascination of and with the English Language.
: I do not have an answer for you on your phrase inquiry but hopefully someone will post something here to help you out.
: Please visit again!

I can never resist tracking down a vaguely familiar quotation. I found so many, I will not quote them all, but will cite a few that may have served to popularize the phrase.

* W. B. Yeats, "The Wild Swans at Coole"
* Charles Hamilton Sorley circa 1912
* Thomas Bailey Aldrich, 19th century poet
* George Eliot in _Middlemarch_ (1871-1872)

The earliest usage I've found so far (assuming the English translation was made in the author's lifetime) is a haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1762 -1827):
The world of dew
is the world of dew,
And yet, and yet--

And yet, and yet... I doubt that's the earliest usage. I did try searching the Oxford Shakespeare at Bartleby and as much as I wish I could pin it on Shakespeare, it seems we can't.

A 17th or early 18th century origin seems likely, but there's just too much ground to cover in one day.