Articulus


Articulus (ar-tic’-u-lus): Roughly equivalent to “phrase” in English, except that the emphasis is on joining several phrases (or words) successively without any conjunctions (in which case articulus is simply synonymous with the Greek term asyndeton). See also brachylogia.


It was cold, freezing, 20 below. I was running out of food, water, firewood, hope. Totally snowed in. Totally trapped. This is northern Canada and there aren’t many people trekking around the woods looking for fur trappers to save. In fact, there aren’t any people anywhere but home, sitting in front of a warm crackling fire. Then I remembered. I had left a beaver carcass in the skinning shed. I could eat that, and then I could pull the shed apart and use it for firewood. Things were looking up. I put on my parka and snowshoes, grabbed a shovel and headed for the shed.

When I got to the shed I thought I was going to have to dig out the door to open it, but something had already dug it out and knocked the door down. I raised my shovel and yelled “Hello!” I heard a snort and then a very large brown bear appeared in the doorway with a half-eaten beaver carcass hanging out of its mouth. The bear dropped the carcass and smiled at me and said: “Get back in your cabin or I’ll tear you to pieces.”

I woke up in the hospital about a week later. I had been found by a cross-country ski club starving and nearly frozen to death. I tried to tell them about the smiling talking bear and they laughed—delusions, hallucinations, imagination—they said as we drove to the hospital.

Today I got a get-well card. It had a picture of a snow-bound cabin on the front. I thought it was from my my mother, But it wasn’t. It said in sloppy writing on the inside: “Sorry I was so rude to you out there in the woods. I felt threatened. It was a matter of survival. Sincerely, The Bear.” I was on the first floor of a rural hospital in Pony Nose, Saskatchewan. It was surrounded by pine trees. I saw something move by my room’s window. I almost fell out of my bed: it was The Bear wearing my mittens. He smiled and loped away. I never saw him again. If I did, I’d ask him to give me my mittens back.


Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Paper and Kindle versions of The Daily Trope are available on Amazon under the title The Book of Tropes.

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