This man I thought had been a Lord among wits; but, I find, he is only a wit among Lords.We can see the chiasmus in the last example (with "country" and "you") if we lay it out this way (in clumsy ASCII art, but I'm too lazy to work up a graphic):
[On The Beggar's Opera, a fabulously successful play written by John Gay and produced by John Rich:] It made Gay rich and Rich gay.
Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
Ask not what your country can do for you, \ / \ / \ / X / \ / \ / \ but what you can do for your country.Chiasmus doesn't have to be the same words: it's often the same parts of speech in ABBA order. Here's Milton:
Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, peace. (PL 7.216)Notice it's imperative-vocative, vocative-imperative or, if that's unclear, "Do something, you; you, do something."
A chiasmus can get even more complicated: not only ABBA, but ABCCBA. Consider Genesis 9:6:
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.Notice shed-blood-man, man-blood-shed: ABC, CBA.
Note: This guide is still in the early stages of development.
Three question marks mean I have to write more on the subject. Bear with me.