Quote: “I wasted time, and now time doth waste me.” Shakespeare, Richard II, 5:5-49
Figure of Speech: chiasmus (kee AZZ muss), the criss-cross figure
Only Shakespeare will do for our all-time favorite figure, the chiasmus. It’s Greek for the letter “X”, and for good reason: the chiasmus contains two groups of words that mirror each other. “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”
Early rhetoricians believed that figures like the chiasmus had a psychotropic effect on audiences, triggering our instinctive love of expressive rhythm. It worked for John F. Kennedy; when he told young people, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” thousands of them joined the Peace Corps.
Snappy Answer: “How long did it take you to think that up?”
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