In one of my recent sweeps through Borders I picked up on of my nerdiest purchases to date: Penguin’s Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory. A book that probably stopped being practical once I got my BA in English, I still delight in learning about literature, and how people talk about it. And this book is proving that even though my college gave me that nifty piece of paper, there’s still plenty to discover.
Like this nifty term: ligne donnée. A French term coined by Paul Valery, it means “given line.” The book defines it as “the line that is ‘given’ to the poet by God, or by nature, or by a muse, or by some power outside himself.” Poets (and other writers, I’m going to say) have to come up with all the other lines by themselves, but there will always be that one, perfect line that seems to come out of no where. You can’t control when it occurs – but when it happens, it’s magic.