I offer you two charades:
My first doth affliction denote,
Which my second is destin'd to feel
And my whole is the best antidote
That affliction to soften and heal.
My first displays the wealth and pomp of kings,
Lords of the earth! their luxury and ease.
Another view of man, my second brings,
Behold him there, the monarch of the seas!
But, ah! united, what reverse we have!
Man's boasted power and freedom, all are flown;
Lord of the earth and sea, he bends a slave,
And woman, lovely woman, reigns alone.
Thy ready wit the word will soon supply,
May its approval beam in that soft eye!
(I'll give your ready wits an opportunity to solve the charades. "My first" and "my second" refer to syllables. "My whole" is the word you're trying to guess. For the answers click on "Continue Reading.")

1. woman
2. courtship
You can find these two verse charades in Austen's Emma. Emma figures out the answer to the second one. The narrative doesn't offer an answer for the first one, but thanks to the need of the Norton Critical editions to explain everything I found the answer in a footnote, which acknowledges a Cornell professor for solving the charade.
Anyways, I thouht I would suggest a new old game for your end of the year/semester and holiday break parties. You can either have your guests solve charades that you came up with or have your guests come up with their own charades. I suppose you don't have to require that the charades be written in metrical verse.
I think I will add to the difficulty of the game by making the verse charades bilingual.
Cheers to everyone.

Originally Published: November 30th, 2008

Javier O. Huerta's debut collection Some Clarifications y otros poemas (Arte Publico 2007) received the 31st Chicano/Latino Literary Prize from UC Irvine. He is also the author of American Copia (2012). A graduate of the Bilingual MFA Program at UT El Paso, Huerta is currently a PhD student in the...