Marginalia, no.197

Language was our secret weapon, and as soon we got language we became a really dangerous species.

~ Quentin D. Atkinson in The New York Times

Our paleolithic poet laureate – last of the sabre-toothed tigers – sat down to his morning coffee and croissant. That caveman down the way is such a boor, he thought. No understanding at all of modern verse – and yet he shows up for every reading, grunting obscenely while everyone else applauds. Brushing crumbs from his pelt, he opened the early paper and you can imagine the shock it gave him to discover that his club-wielding neighbor had just published a damning review of his latest volume. Emergency services were summoned, but too late. He was the last of his kind, but the first to learn that while sticks and stones may break your bones, it’s names that really hurt you.

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