Friday, November 16, 2007


SMITHAREEN, n.  A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it "led them to the devil" it is seen at its best:

The wheels go round without a sound —
The maidens hold high revel;
In sinful mood, insanely gay,
True spinsters spin adown the way
From duty to the devil!
They laugh, they sing, and — ting-a-ling!
Their bells go all the morning;
Their lanterns bright bestar the night
Pedestrians a-warning.
With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands,
Good-Lording and O-mying,
Her rheumatism forgotten quite,
Her fat with anger frying.
She blocks the path that leads to wrath,
Jack Satan's power defying.
The wheels go round without a sound
The lights burn red and blue and green.
What's this that's found upon the ground?
Poor Charlotte Smith's a smithareen!

—John William Yope

2007 Update:  The first part that lasts, often, pride of purpose.

A high mountain once featured
The three holy creatures:
Courage, Wisdom and Piety climbing
Courage braved the fierce wind
Wisdom found strength within
And Piety fought the cold whining.

Halfway to the summit, the spirits' paths met
With half the day before the sun would set
Piety, the prince, said, offering to lead,
"Ascent is my vocation
If you seek elevation
Get behind, follow and keep up with me.

But Wisdom, the true, did proclaim
"Fate under her own name
Must have brought us as one to this trial
It should be good karma
And a little bit warmer
To be comrades as we face the last mile.

Courage, the mighty, had gone on ahead
And in a gallant voice, said,
As he looked down below at the plummet,
"Here among the fast winds
You two surely fit in
Will there be this much talk at the summit?"

The three never saw the top
For progress there stopped
As battle tore the three from the side
If you climb those same heights
You can hear on still nights
The laugh of their smithereen, Pride.


Mutha said...

Hold on, I've gotta go hop on a bicycle this minute!

Be back later...

Minka said...

pride does come before the fall!

Nicely done, Pascover. I know the virtues wouldn't make it up there, I liked that pride plummeted them.

Sar said...

I second Minka, nicely done. In fact, it was quite...


Minka said...

*gathers around the mountain, picking up the fragments of former virtues, glues them toegther and makes an urn, so they can chase each other forever, never quite getting there*

(inspired by keats!)

Tom & Icy said...

The fool on the hill laughed at them because he had taken the path on the other side.

I Dive At Night said...

Hmmm, thanks Doug, this says a lot to me about the "independence" of Dutch women and their proclivity to cycle everywhere.

My hope for meeting one is now in smithereens.

Doug The Una said...

Mutha, staying in shape is the key to virtue.

Before and after, Minka. Thanks.

Thanks, Sar. I'll take it on the rocks.

Minka, I'm humbled. For the literacy-challenged, including the blog host, here.

Icy, fools are smart that way.

Morgan, you'd be surprised what a marvelous introduction a broomstick through the spokes can be.

Ariel the Thief said...

In your poem Piety is arrogant, Wisodm is naive and Courage is impatient. No wonder Pride laughs like evil. :-)

joyui - my joy ruins

Anonymous said...

This just in:

MAN FOUND AT CURBSIDE BEATEN BLOODY -- tlc wire service -- Q. Dancer, reporting

The wife of a man found beaten and bloody, and placed at the curb beside his own garbage can has been found not guilty of all charges that arose from his battery. Joe Smith was found early one Saturday morning wadded up like dirty laundry at the curb of his home in Bright Suburb, Youeszay.

According to Smith, his wife Areen met him at the door as he returned from work that Friday evening and demanded to know why he was so late. His coworkers testified that Smith left work at five p.m. Friday evening. Areen Smith claims that her husband did not return home until three a.m. Saturday morning. Smith, admitting that he was several hours late and more then a bit drunk, explained that he told Areen he would come and go as he pleased, whether she pleased or not. Then he demanded breakfast.

The Judge, Betty D. Servdit, handed down a verdict of not guilty in less then 30 seconds and demanded that Joe Smith be charged with attempted suicide. Smith is currently being held in Pleasant Acres Sanitarium awaiting psychiatric evaluation.

TLP said...

Oh, I love this word! My little Mama loved to talk about smithereens. "You're going to smash that to smithereens TLP!" And after I had smashed it to smithereens, she'd say whatever-it-was was then "flatter than a flitter."

Jamie Dawn said...

Ariel: Your comments here and over at Tom & Icy's are always terrific. You're smart and very funny!
It was my pleasure yesterday to steal your "bathroom wall writing" thunder. :-)

I used to ride bikes a lot, but now I'm a walker. A street walker. Oh, for shame!!

Pride smashes everything else to smithereens, for sure. Wisdom should know better. Good one, Doug.

Anonymous said...

SMITHEREEN, n. One of the rare words that Bierce misspelled. Of course, everybody misspells it, 'cause back on the Emerald Isle where it came from, the word is smidirín. A smidirín is smaller than a smiodar, like when you're 20 feet from the roadside bomb instead of 3 feet. Not that it matters.

tsduff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tsduff said...

BLOGGER SHOULD BE BLOWN TO SMITHERENES (*she says, as yet one more comment is eaten...*)

I used to think
Of bits and pieces
Quite broke up
When all else ceases

But now when
thinking Smitherenes
My thoughts toward
Blood and Roses lean

Anonymous said...

my hopes were dashed to smithereens when i found myself unable to get over here sooner. guessing it didn't matter, i haven't an iota of a clue for further defining this word.

that said, i was first shocked then in giggles over Bierce's definition... yours was rather tasty, too. ; )

Mutha said...

Doug: naaaaaah! I'm in it for its potential path to the devil!

Cooper said...

At least now I know it's a real world.

mireille said...

"...lead them to the devil..." Oh please. That presupposes some pretty weak spirits if a bike is all it takes. xoxo

I Dive At Night said...

A broomstick through the spokes?!? Hmmm, I could dress as a witch and cackle," I'll get you my pretties."

Ariel the Thief said...

Geez, Jamie Dawn! *blushes*

Doug The Una said...

Kind of explains everything, doesn't it Ariel. To bad it's just verse. By the way, I read Jupiter Doke while I was away. Very funny and thanks for the recommendation. With your help, I might make people think I've read Bierce.

Great report, Q. Dancer. The judge was right, if he'd wanted to live he'd have brought home some of the whiskey.

TLP, Yoda stories are my favorite.

Jamie Dawn, it sounds like a minor fall.

Amoeba, close only counts in horseshoes an improvised explosive devices.

Terry, I did not know of these Smithereens of which you speak.

Thanks, Neva. You can see I'm running a little slow my own self.

Idle feet, Mutha.

Nothing but non-fiction here, Cooper.

And, Mireille, that they didn't start there.

Morgan, chicks love that sort of thing.

Ariel, did you cut your hair or something?