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Waxing lyrical

Posted by Smokey Stover on March 08, 2006

In Reply to: Waxing lyrical posted by Rose on March 07, 2006

: He was waxing lyrical about water. page 27 of Ladder of Years, anne Tyler. Could some one help me with this? I don't get it. Thank you in advance.

Waxing, used intransitively, that is, not waxing skis and not waxing your legs, means growing or becoming. The tide waxes and wanes; so does the moon, although it's an optical illusion. When one waxes lyrical one becomes lyrical. Problem with lyrical? It's from lyre, a musical instrument of the Greeks (like a hand-held, or lap-held, harp) used to accompany singing. So the word lyrical often means "as in singing, suitable for singing." The Greek muse of lyric poetry, Erato, was also the muse of music. Lyrical poetry, as opposed to dramatic, seems more song-like, not fixed on narrative purpose. When one waxes lyrical one seems, in some way, to be speaking in a song-like fashion, using more poetic language, becoming somewhat effusive, perhaps, and certainly not narrative. I can easily imagine some people waxing lyrical about water. But author Tyler uses the phrase precisely because it's not the sort of thing you expect to follow "waxing lyrical." And thanks very, very much for giving us the context. Keep up the good work! SS