Thursday, July 24, 2008


The magic word was—‘Excelsior!’
—Roy Thomas, Stan Lee’s Amazing Marvel Universe (2006)
Excelsior is a cry of ascendancy, supremacy, mastery, greatness. It is a charm for gaining the upper hand. The silvery tones of this heart-stirring magic word “put a soul in every bell / To triumph o’er the powers of hell—Excelsior!” (Thomas Bracken, “Longfellow,” Musings in Maoriland, 1890). In his poem “Excelsior,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow likened the word to a sigh, an oft-repeated prayer, the accents of an unknown tongue, and a falling star. Excelsior is of Latin origin, ex meaning “beyond” and celsus meaning “lofty.” It is typically taken to mean "ever upward."

1 comment:

Gordon said...

The creative and innovative close-up magician, Rick Johnsson, ended each of his long-running columns "Come A Little Closer" with the imperative "Excelsior!"