Since we originally posted the 50+ of the Worst (Best) Analogies by High School Students, it has been brought to our attention that one of the quotes inspired a poem by Pulitzer-prize winner Stephen Dunn. The quote that inspired him happens to also be on of our personal favorites: “John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who also had never met.” The poem, titled “John & Mary” isn’t half-bad either.
From Dunn’s collection of poems, Different Hours, W. W. Norton & Company (New York, NY), 2000:
John & Mary
They were like gazelles who occupied different
grassy plains, running in opposite directions
from different lions. They were like postal clerks
in different zip codes, with different vacation time,
their bosses adamant and clock-driven.
How could they get together?
They were like two people who couldn’t get together.
John was a Sufi with a love of the dervish,
Mary of course a Christian with a curfew.
They were like two dolphins in the immensity
of the Atlantic, one playful,
the other stuck in a tuna net–
two absolutely different childhoods!
There was simply no hope for them.
They would never speak in person.
When they ran across the windswept field
toward each other, they were like two freight trains,
one having left Seattle at 6:36 P.M.
at an unknown speed, the other delayed
in Topeka for repairs.
The math indicated that they’d embrace
in another world, if at all, like parallel lines.
Or merely appear kindred and close, like stars.
It’s also come to our attention that the list of analogies was compiled from submissions written by adults as purposefully bad analogies. It was a Washington Post contest (two actually as part of their Style Invitational feature, one in 1995 and one in 1999). However, the contest consisted of the Post inviting its readers to create and send in “lame” and “painfully bad” analogies; the analogies did not come from student writing samples as our original post stated.