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

Posted by TheFallen on December 12, 2002

In Reply to: Re: And yet...and yet... posted by R. Berg 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.

: Another use of this evocative phrase (found using Google): Emma Goldman's essay "Durruti Is Dead, Yet Living" , linked below. If a follow-up post removes the link, return to this post for it or use
: http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/Goldman/Writings/Essays/durruti.html

Another contender for the crown is Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Dodgson, who has Alice say the following:-

"It was much pleasanter at home," thought poor Alice, "when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered around by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole--and yet--and yet--it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life.!"

(Alice in Wonderland 1865)

However, the usage of the phrase in the 19th Century is frequent, both in the UK and the USA, including appearing in the works of Thomas Aldrich and Oscar Wilde. There's a US Civil War song dating from 1864 called "Brave Boys Of Home" that features the phrase in the chorus, as follows:-

"Brave boys are they!
Gone at their country's call;
And yet, and yet we cannot forget
That many brave boys must fall."

That's the earliest usage in original English that I can find in a hurry, but I'm sure it'll be bested