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One of the best-known examples of epistrophe is Abraham Lincoln's description of democracy "of the people, by the people, for the people." A counterpart of epistrophe is anaphora where the same word or phrase begins a number of sentences, as in these lines from the poem "To my Dear and Loving Husband" by Anne Bradstreet:

"If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare me with ye women if you can."

Combine epistrophe and anaphora and you get symploce. Consider these words from Anne Lindbergh,
"Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid, each cycle of the wave is valid, each cycle of a relationship is valid."

Think about the resonance these rhetorical devices create. No wonder they are often used in speeches and poetry to magnificent effect. We'll look at more words about words this week.

A happy 2002 to all! May you never be at a loss for words in the new year. 2002 is a palindromic year. What's a palindrome? Text that reads the same forward and backward, such as this URL:

epistrophe (i-PIS-truh-fee) noun

The repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses or sentences.

[From Greek epistrophe, from epi- (upon) + strophe (turning).]

"Epistrophe is also a Hillary specialty. That's the ending of phrases with the same term. "If women are healthy and educated, their families will flourish. If women are free from violence, their families will flourish. If women have a chance to work ... their families will flourish." Obviously, Mrs. Clinton and her speech writer, Lissa Muscatine, decided to push alliterative epistrophe."
William Safire, First Lady's, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct 1, 1995.


The luck of having talent is not enough; one must also have a talent for luck. -Louis-Hector Berlioz, composer (1803-1869)

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