If you never hear from me again, it’s because I was summoned to a meeting of the English Major Review Board for failing for many years to realize that “Water, water, everywhere/and not a drop to drink” is a misquote. The actual line from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is “Water, water, everywhere,/nor any drop to drink.”
Oh, the shame. I even studied “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”! And I really liked it. I think there’s a good chance I even wrote a paper about it.
Please don’t tell my professors, okay? There’s no defense in “But everyone gets it wrong!”
Like the line “Summertime and the livin’ is easy,” this line from Coleridge is subject to endless riffing. In fact, I myself once wrote an article about the Southeast Asia tsunami of 2004 that had the headline “Water, water, everywhere” slapped on it by a zealous editor who was prone to facile rifffing. I’m not saying riffing is bad, I do it myself, there’s just a few lines I’d like to vote off the island because they are so obvious. If they could get off the island, what with the water, water, everywhere.