08.19.07 -- Mississippi -- the Acrostic

Sunday, August 19, 2007
Puzzle by Emily Cox & Henry Rathvon, edited by Will Shortz
Author of quote: Charles DICKENS, AMERICAN NOTES
Quotation: But WHAT WORDS SHALL DESCRIBE THE MISSISSIPPI, great father of rivers, who (praise be to Heaven) has no young children like him! AN ENORMOUS DITCH, SOMETIMES two or THREE MILES WIDE, RUNNING LIQUID MUD, six miles an hour: ITS strong and FROTHY CURRENT CHOKED and obstructed EVERYWHERE BY HUGE LOGS AND WHOLE FOREST TREES: now twining themselves together in great rafts, from the interstices of which a sedgy, lazy foam works up, to float upon the water’s top; now ROLLING PAST LIKE MONSTROUS BODIES, their tangled roots showing like matted hair; now glancing singly by like giant leeches; and now writhing round and round in the vortex of some small whirlpool, like wounded snakes. The banks low, the trees dwarfish, the marshes swarming with frogs, the wretched cabins few and far apart, their inmates hollow-cheeked and pale, the weather very hot, mosquitoes penetrating into every crack and crevice of the boat, mud and slime on everything: nothing pleasant in its aspect, but the harmless lightning which flickers every night upon the dark horizon. --- Paragraph from Chapter 12, American Notes by Charles Dickens
William Rickerby Miller (American, 1818-1893), “Mississippi Sunset”, c. 1852
The defined words:
A. Madness, from the Latin for “being out of one’s furrow” ; B. White Queen to Alice: “I’ve believed as many as six ___ things before breakfast” ; C. Gladden (2 wds.) ; D. High link between Kabul and Peshawar (2 wds.) ; E. Author of the 2005 novel “The March” (3 wds.) ; F. “Bare” things in a song from “The Jungle Book” ; G. Fictional Queen of the Jungle ; H. Colt .45s, after moving indoors ; I. Caped hero from the Terrytoons studio (2 wds.) ; J. Shotgun toter from Looney Tunes (2 wds.) ; K. U.S. state capital named for a courtier ; I. Perspicacious; M. Kirsch source ; N. Fine, copacetic (2 wds.); O. Clean-air advocates?; P. Airline with a hub in Minneapolis/St. Paul ; Q. Novel begun serially in 1837 (2 wds.) ; R. Indicator of a pan (hyph.) ; S. Subject of a 1980s Broadway mystery musical in which the ending was decided by audience vote (2 wods.) ; T. Afflicted with strabismus (hyph.)
In American Notes, a woman travelling on the steamboat with her new-born infant is happily re-united with her husband, who has never seen the child born while his wife was in New York. In contrast, in Martin Chuzzlewit, the young woman and her children from steerage find her husband worn out by the hellish heat and disease of the Mississippi at Eden, a cautionary tale for would-be English emigrants. For Twain forty years later, the city at the confluence of Mississippi and Ohio rivers symbolizes the hope of freedom for the escaped slave, Jim, but for Dickens in both fiction and non-fiction it is "a breeding place of fever, ague, and death . . . an ugly sepulchre, a grave uncheered by any gleam of promise." -- Philip V. Allingham, Contributing Editor, Victorian Web, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon have given us another beautiful acrostic -- is there a fan club that I can join?!
William H. Powell was the last artist to be commissioned by the Congress for a painting in the Rotunda. His dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas shows Spanish conqueror and explorer Hernando DeSoto, riding a white horse, the first European to view the Mississippi River, in 1541. As De Soto and his troops approach, the Native Americans in front of their tepees watch, and a chief holds out a peace pipe. In the foreground is a jumble of weapons and soldiers, suggesting the attack they had suffered shortly before. To the right, a monk prays as a crucifix is set in the ground.
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