Am He Gone, Are He Went…and Snippet

Posted: January 19th, 2013 under snippet, the writing life.
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From one of my mother’s favorite joke verses…and relating to the power outage that had all my stuff offline for awhile this afternoon.    I learned to recite this as a little kid, and I still think it’s funny.

Am he gone?  Are he went? Have he left I all alone?  Us can never go to he; he can never come to we.  O cruel world, to I unkind!  Go he way and leave I hind! It cannot was.

It wasn’t in the “humor and whimsy” section of the big poetry anthology we had, so I have no idea where it came from, nor did my mother.   Online search didn’t find it (haven’t looked lately, though.)   If you do, let me know the author.  At any rate, the power up in north Texas was off, shutting down my hosting service, the wonderful,  and they were kind enough to post what happened on Twitter and let us know when they got back up again.

The warehouse scene continues to amuse (me, anyway)  although the transitions are still extremely rough.  They feel rough to Arvid, too.

Anyway…a little bitty snippet from today that may or may not be like this in the final version:


How many were there?  The report they’d gotten only said “a gang of men” had attacked the grange.  Arvid felt in his cloak pockets–he had only three bolts left.  He glanced behind.  Could he make it over the next roof before they got to him?  Maybe.


It has to be brief because it’s a Book V snippet and would otherwise be trailing a cloud of spoilers for Limits of Power.


  • Comment by elizabeth — January 27, 2013 @ 4:44 pm


    Interesting quirk from south Texas: in my home town, we said “going downtown” meaning “go to the center of town” but those living out in the country (not far away) usually said “going to town.” My step-grandmother, in a town twelve miles away, always said “going uptown”. We lived north of the town’s center; my step-grandmother lived south of her town center, and generally, people spoke of going “up” to San Antonio (320 miles. north) and Houston (300+ miles north-north east), “down to” or “over to” towns in Mexico (all south of us, but also “over the river.” But also “over” to Laredo (150 miles northwest, upriver, but on the same highway as all the other towns closer by.) In reference to the string of towns along the highway close to us, it was always “to” or “over to” them…they lay roughly east and west of us. It was always “down to” the coast (farther east.)

    But though I thought as a child that the N/S thing was part of “uptown” and “downtown”, most of the people in my step-grandmother’s town said “Going uptown” even if they lived north of the two blocks of businesses, and people in my town who lived south of the business district still said “Going downtown.” I learned early that “uptown” and “downtown” were the same sort of place–where the stores were. The business districts of the small towns varied depending on which way the town had been laid out originally–the ones where Main Street crossed the highway and the railroad always had bigger business districts than the ones where Main (or whatever it was called–nearly always Main) ran parallel to the highway, a block away. The biggest had intersecting railway lines crossing the line that paralleled the highway(our town was one of the biggest: when I was a child, it had two railway stations, one for the “local” line that ran E/W, and one for the line that ran north to San Antonio.) Downriver from us, another, different rail line ran north to Houston. Crossroads matter.

  • Comment by pjm — January 28, 2013 @ 12:34 am


    In my childhood we went to town (meaning to the city from the suburbs). Now we are more likely to go in to town (it may be either the centre of the satellite town or the city) or in to the city. Down to the city is used (we live to the North and also topographically higher). It is confusing that in railway-speak the up line goes towards Melbourne, which we always think of as down.


  • Comment by Corinne — January 28, 2013 @ 4:46 am


    The translation on the page (unattributed) seems very close.

  • Comment by Corinne — January 29, 2013 @ 3:46 pm


    It is interesting how it changes over time: Here is a similar poem from 1904, the earliest version I can find:

  • Comment by filkferengi — February 1, 2013 @ 9:53 pm


    Here’s Nate Bucklin singing his classic “Let’s All Diagram Sentences”:

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 2, 2013 @ 12:05 am


    filkferengi: That is hilarious, and at just after midnight when I’ve been dealing with Organizational Issues (never mind which organization–I’m silly enough to be in several) it was a great and much needed relief. I may suggest it to the committee.

  • Comment by Susan — February 2, 2013 @ 11:52 pm


    I’m having trouble hearing the words; does anyone know where to find the lyrics? Thanks!

  • Comment by GinnyW — February 3, 2013 @ 3:00 pm


    filkferengi: A good laugh for a long day. Thanks!

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — February 4, 2013 @ 10:24 pm


    Susan, me too. Hope somebody can help, as Google failed me.

    I did barely catch one reference to “object sublime,” which of course started a different earworm.

  • Comment by Sherri C — February 17, 2013 @ 2:05 am


    My English instructor at UNR was death on wheels on grammar – he relied heavily on Strunk & White “Elements of Style”. Everyone in the class had to memorize all the rules and get 100% on pop quizzes – which he repeated until everyone did get 100%. It is a handy reference. As to my least favorite error – I’m not sure if it an editorial thing, or a writer foible, but using a word they aren’t sure of incorrectly… My favorite example was the “herd of majestic heifers rolling along with their calves by their sides.” Next favorite was the rider “flexing his thigh muscles against the flank of the horse.” (Still trying to figure that one out…)

  • Comment by pjm — February 20, 2013 @ 4:10 am


    I quite enjoyed the grammar component of my English studies back at school. My favorites were the ambiguous sentences, such as “She had to brush, dust, cook and wash the baby every day.”


  • Comment by Linda — February 28, 2013 @ 10:21 am


    I was helping out in a grade 8 classroom recently where the teacher was working with his students on diagraming sentences. I got the impression that he was hoping they’d get better scores on the standardized writing tests which were coming up.

    My Mother and I were having supper at a diner in southern NJ where the waitress repeatedly referred to one or the other of us as “youse” rather than “you”. For example, “Do youse want cream with your coffee?” I wondered if she was trying to come across as “tough” or “real” New Jersey. Having grown up in the state 60 years ago, and having attended a high school where there really were toughs, I had never heard it used before in real life.

    All of which leads me to ponder the relevance of “class” in the use of language, even in our supposedly democratic society.

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