the devils dictionary
n. An ancient instrument of torture. The word is now used in a figurative sense to denote the poetic faculty, as in the following fiery lines of our great poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

I sit astride Parnassus with my lyre,
And pick with care the disobedient wire.
That stupid shepherd lolling on his crook
With deaf attention scarcely deigns to look.
I bide my time, and it shall come at length,
When, with a Titan's energy and strength,
I'll grab a fistful of the strings, and O,
The world shall suffer when I let them go!
—Farquharson Harris
(also: instruments of torture)
(also: ancient instruments of torture)
(also: modern instruments of torture)
(also: The Devil's Dictionary)

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