To the lonely child is given the spoils of solitude

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pinan

New Member
italy italian
I am looking for a reference to this. Is it a verse from a poem, or is it a saying or a phrase? could it be connected to a known author? thanks in advance!
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    This interesting saying is, as far as I know, is not common in AE; I would go so far as to say that it is probably a translation from some other language (or a significant rephrasing of a different saying), so I am at a loss regarding a possible source or author.
     

    Trisia

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Hello, Pinan. Welcome to the forum :D Make sure you read the sticky :)

    I'm not even sure that phrase is grammatically correct, Pinan. Shouldn't it be "To the lonely child are given the spoils of solitude?"

    Sorry, I can't tell you who said this. I could try and guess what it means :p

    I'm having a hard time understanding this, because I feel it could mean either:

    • that loneliness has its advantages (perhaps quiet meditation and such?) and only the solitary ones can make use of them
    • that loneliness brings about other negative aspects (maybe tears, bitterness, I don't know) and they're referred to as "spoils" in a rather sarcastic way. You don't really win these things, they take possession of you.
    Ok, let's wait and hope someone comes along with a better idea :D
     

    pinan

    New Member
    italy italian
    well, thank you, I think the quote is correct and have the feeling it might be a line from a poem, but I'm not sure
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    The well-known expression that lies behind this is "to the victor belong the spoils", which actually derives from American politics in the 19th C. The idea of the original statement was that when one party is in power, it can do what it likes (such as appointing its members or sympathizers to lucrative government jobs.) Whoever wrote this curious adaptation of the statement seems to be comparing a "lonely child" to a "victor" in a battle or an election, and the military or political "spoils" of wealth or power to "solitude". Frankly, I think that to adapt the original phrase in this way is a little ridiculous.
     

    nichec

    Senior Member
    Chinese(Taiwan)/English(AE)
    I am looking for a reference to this. Is it a verse from a poem, or is it a saying or a phrase? could it be connected to a known author? thanks in advance!
    Welcome to the forum :)

    I have never heard of it before, and I tend to agree with you that it might be a verse from a poem.

    I did some research in vain, trying to find the original source.

    I do like the sentence, and I am willing to give it a try:
    --The spoils of solitude (as a gift) is given to the lonely child.

    My understanding is: Some kids love to be alone, me included, when I was a kid. The solitude they have seems to be different from that of us adults, maybe because they are more naive, or maybe they are simply younger and free from responsibilities. I always think of solitude and the ability to enjoy it as a gift, and I think this gift is even bigger when it's given to a child. I've always believed that it would change his whole life and the way he sees the world, forever.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The well-known expression that lies behind this is "to the victor belong the spoils", which actually derives from American politics in the 19th C. The idea of the original statement was that when one party is in power, it can do what it likes (such as appointing its members or sympathizers to lucrative government jobs.) Whoever wrote this curious adaptation of the statement seems to be comparing a "lonely child" to a "victor" in a battle or an election, and the military or political "spoils" of wealth or power to "solitude". Frankly, I think that to adapt the original phrase in this way is a little ridiculous.

    I find the "spoils of solitude" phrase quite effective. I think that any relationship to the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils" is probably minor and should not mar the use of the saying. Simply put, I find the whole thing innocuous and charming, rather than ridiculous.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I find the "spoils of solitude" phrase quite effective. I think that any relationship to the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils" is probably minor and should not mar the use of the saying. Simply put, I find the whole thing innocuous and charming, rather than ridiculous.
    I think that the relationship of this sentence to the well-known phrase "to the victor belong the spoils" is not at all "minor", but is instead explicit and intentional; the whole point is to echo the construction of Senator Marcy's original comment. Notice the way the sentence runs: we do not see "the spoils of solitude are given to the lonely child", but instead we have the backwards phrasing of the political remark (and it should be noted that as "spoils" is plural, the verb should be"are given", not "is given".) It is also bizarre to suggest that solitude can be considered a spoils-producing victory for the lonely child; there are few lonely children who willingly choose to be lonely, and who do battle to be lonely so that they may gain the "spoils" produced by being alone. Under those circumstances, to try to make a parallel between a lonely child and a selfish and agressive victorious political party is hardly charming, and more than a little ridiculous.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    You are right to point out that the verb should be “are” rather than “is,” as Tricia pointed out earlier.

    I don’t agree with the absoluteness of your comments; at most, the saying is reminiscent of the Senator’s line, “to the victor belong the spoils of war.” Unless you know the source of pinan’s phrase or its author, I wonder how you can categorically state that it is an “explicit an intentional” reference? To my thinking, this is likely a translation and the word “spoils” was picked out of a English-to-X dictionary.

    But seeing as the similarities in phrasing bother you, would it be enough to change the order of the words or just to replace “spoils” with a different word?

    As to your other objection (the inherent unsuitability of spoils in this phrase), I would point at what you believe is the direct predecessor, the Senator’s quote. There, no one argues that “war” is preferable to the alternative (just like the pinan’s phrase doesn’t suggest that solitude is inherently superior or preferable); whatever the spoils or the “battle” may be, specifically, is irrelevant, as no judgment of relative value or profitability is intended, just a factual relationship. I guess my reading of either phrase (pinon’s or Marcy’s) is not so literal, and my condemnation of “war” is not so absolute.

    In truth, I only with to reiterate that the phrase (with the change of “is” to “are”) does not sound to me as if it is grotesquely inappropriate.
     
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