Ben Franklin Gets Some Smarts

Pompous Doesn’t Pay

Once upon a time I was in a poetry circle and we were given a new word every day to write a poem about. For some words it’s pretty tough to come up with anything really sensible. Here’s my offering in response to the word fletcherize, which means to reduce (food) to tiny particles especially by prolonged chewing.

What is this new word fletcherize?
It brings no vision to my eyes;
its purpose I can’t crystalize;
all sense of rhythm it defies.

A word that is so obdurate,
with sounds that cannot resonate
a poet true will obviate
for fear that it would obfuscate.
—        ☺      —

According to Ben Franklin, at one point in his youth he became enchanted with impressive-sounding words. One day he told his mother, “I’ve imbibed an acephalous mollusc.”

She gasped. Thinking he’d eaten some poison she promptly dosed him with a foul-tasting concoction that made him vomit. The poor boy retched for hours. Once his stomach was settled again, he told his mother all he’d done was eaten an oyster.

“You naughty boy, scaring the wits out of me like that!” And she gave him a good thrashing.

He says this experience cured him of his liking for pomposity; that day he decided he’d never again use fancy-sounding words when simple ones would do.

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