An expression which has been used often and has become worn, lacking the freshness that makes language interesting.
Sometimes a good wordwright can give new life to a cliche.
In the Bible to say something is as numerous as the "dust of the earth" (Gen 13:16; 28:14; etc.) or "as sand" (Gen 22:17; 41:49; Jos 11:4 etc.) was an overused cliche.
The banality of the image sometimes permits the cliche to become ridiculous:
Ps 78:27 "he rained flesh upon them like dust, winged birds like the
sand of the seas". However in the mouth of a gifted poet even such
a cliche can receive new life, Job 6:2-3:
O that my vexation were weighed,
and all my calamity laid on the scales!
For then it would be heavier than the sand of the sea;
therefore my words have been rash."
These lines succeed for two reasons:
The mixture of expectation and surprise renews the banal and makes the text work.
This page is part of the Hypertext Bible Commentary - Amos,
© Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2005, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.