Is the Most Beautiful Phrase in English "Cellar Door"?

cellarIt flows off the tongue and inspires curiosity about what lies beyond it. That's why there's a literary tradition of describing "cellar door" as the most beautiful phrase in the English language:

The claim that cellar door is beautiful to the ear — in opposition to its prosaic meaning — has been made by and attributed to a wide variety of writers over the years. “Poetry, in fact, is two quite distinct things,” H. L. Mencken wrote in a 1920 magazine column. “It may be either or both. One is a series of words that are intrinsically musical, in clang-tint and rhythm, as the single word cellar-door is musical. The other is a series of ideas, false in themselves, that offer a means of emotional and imaginative escape from the harsh realities of everyday.” [...]

The fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien, who was also a philologist, might well be the linguist she had in mind. He mentioned the idea of cellar door’s special beauty in a speech in 1955 and is often given credit for it. Other supposed authors abound; the story is tangled. 

What do you think is the most beautiful phrase in English?

Link -via Joe Carter | Photo: Blue moon in her eyes


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