Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Fury and Phlegm

Henry David Thoreau, Letter to Samuel Ripley Bartlett (Jan. 19, 1860):
I have found that the precept "Write with fury, and correct with flegm" required me to print only the hundredth part of what I had written.
The precept comes from Wentworth Dillon, Earl of Roscommon's Essay on Translated Verse:
But, though we must obey when Heaven commands,
And man in vain the sacred call withstands,
Beware what spirit rages in your breast;
For ten inspired, ten thousand are possess'd:
Thus make the proper use of each extreme,
And write with fury, but correct with phlegm.
With fury = passionately, with phlegm = dispassionately.

Related post: Revise and Rewrite.

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