[Writing tips] A great example of effective repetitions

We use repetitions to emphasize an idea. But what if instead of repeating the same word, we repeated the same idea — in different words? The effect can be striking.

In this short quote, we see an author find no less than eight different ways to say “the past”, and use them all to evoke a poignant nostalgia.

This is a passage from The Collar of the Dove, a book by Moorish scholar Ibn Hazm of Cordoba (~994 – 1064) quoted by Titus Burckhardt in his work Moorish Culture in Spain. (Translated by Burckhardt from the Arabic into German, and by Alisa Jaffa from German into English.)

The setup is the story of a great love Ibn Hazm lived. In his youth, he fell deeply in love with a young woman, a slave of some relatives of his, but she did not reciprocate his feelings. Due to political unrest, Ibn Hazm had to go into exile and hiding, and for years he moved from one place to another and never saw his beloved again. She seemed to have faded away, a part of the irretrievable past. Until one day, at a family burial, he saw a figure that made his heart leap. It was she.

Standing there, she reawakened in me a long-buried passion, which had since become tranquil, and reminded me of earlier days, of a former love, a time that was over, a vanished epoch, of months long past, of things now ancient, an age that was gone, episodes finished, and days gone by, and of trails effaced.


Imagem: “A Malabarista” (The Juggler), de Jan-Baptist Huysmans. Wikimedia Commons.

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