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Here is a riddle quite long
I hope you can follow along
You'll be delighted
While I recite it:
I'm known to be unmatched in song.

You'll find me the whole world around
In nature 'tis true I abound
You might not expect
But just recollect:
In various forms I am found.

I am a king of my kind
And yet I have been quite maligned
Confused for another
Get this: I'm her brother
Though our differences are well defined.

We're nothing alike, I insist
Her flowery form I resist
I'm more aggressive
She seems more passive
Yet one step from outburst she is.

She's one of a number, all true
I'm not because I come from two
She gets her own line
I'll never have mine
You know me now surely, don't you?

See me or listen to flyers
Read me or climb up much higher
Once solving is done
Please pardon the pun
And now I must sleep, for I tire.

I worked pretty hard on this one; I wanted it to be challenging but doable. Don't take things too literally on this one and you won't be misled. As always, the green check goes to not only the correct final answer, but the one that also explains all of my hidden clues. I hope you guys enjoy!

ADDED STANZA This should be the nail in the coffin; then the hard work will be in finding all of the hidden--and cute, if I do say so myself--clues in the limerick. But beware, like in the rest of the limerick, don't take everything literally here. Wordplay abounds in this stanza. :

From all but one sense do we hide
My ghostly sister and I
She on a petal
Me on a metal
I've made many emperors die.

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You are

Purple, or possibly "The color purple", which might make a good title.

Here is a riddle quite long
I hope you can follow along
You'll be delighted
While I recite it:
I'm known to be unmatched in song

Unmatched in song: there is no rhyme for purple, although this hasn't stopped people trying (then I'll hurtle like Steve Urkel on a turtle in a circle, the feeling's universal like the hurtful color purple) :

You'll find me the whole world around
In nature 'tis true I abound
You might not expect
But just recollect:
In various forms I am found.

There are lots of purple plants and birds, e.g. aubergine (eggplant), lavendar, heather, grapes, purple heron, purple finch.

I am a king of my kind
And yet I have been quite maligned
Confused for another
Get this: I'm her brother
Though our differences are well defined.

Purple is a regal colour. But purple looks quite a bit like violet, which is a female name, so we can call purple her brother

We're nothing alike, I insist
Her flowery form I resist
I'm more aggressive
She seems more passive
Yet one step from outburst she is.

Violet is a flower. And a viole(n)t act is an outburst. As @Mythi commented, You can be purple with rage, or a shrinking violet.

She's one of a number, all true
I'm not because I come from two
She gets her own line
I'll never have mine
You know me now surely, don't you?

Violet is a color with a single wavelength (a spectral colour). But purple is a mix of Red and Blue, with two distinct wavelengths (a non-spectral color). This means (see comment from @Jon Ericson) that violet is counted as one of the lines of the rainbow, but purple isn't, with one musical exception

See me or listen to flyers
Read me or climb up much higher
Once solving is done
Please pardon the pun
And now I must sleep, for I tire.

You can see purple, and could read the book The color purple, or alternatively purple prose (comment from @Mythi). The Stone Temple Pilots released an album called Purple, and in this case are the Flyers (comment from @Jon Ericson). The pun is on "tire/Tyre". The ancient city of Tyre was source of a purple dye, known as Tyrian purple: "As early as the 15th century BC the citizens of Sidon and Tyre, two cities on the coast of Ancient Phoenicia, (present day Lebanon), were producing purple dye from a sea snail called the spiny dye-murex "

From all but one sense do we hide
My ghostly sister and I
She on a petal
Me on a metal
I've made many emperors die.

Violet and purple can only be seen, not smelt/touched/tasted/heard. And being an E-M wave is quite ghostly. Petal is again a reference to the flower violet. Metal could refer to Manganese based pigments which can be purple, but the intended meaning was the Purple Heart Medal, awarded to injured US military personnel. Some emperors (e.g. Charlemagne) were buried in purple robes. And there may very well be a pun on die/dye.

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    $\begingroup$ I like this answer, bravo! $\endgroup$ – McMagister Aug 27 '15 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ This is in fact the correct answer! Bravo indeed! At the risk of seeming self-gratifying, there are still some hidden hints. Can anyone identify the meaning behind 'agressive'/'passive', 'she gets her own line...', 'listen to flyers', and 'me on a metal' (may help for that last one if you're in the U.S.). In the meantime, congrats @Fillet on your well-deserved bounty (which I can't award for another hour, so sit tight on that) $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 27 '15 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ One can be aggressively “purple with rage" or use shockingly profane purple language. One can be a passive and shy “shrinking violet". There's a “Violet line" in the Delhi Metro system in India. Um, some compounds of the metal manganese are purple, or there are some metal bands with purple in their names, such as “Deep Purple". I have no idea about flyers, though. Thanks for the “purple prose"? :) $\endgroup$ – Mythi Aug 27 '15 at 16:53
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    $\begingroup$ @NeedAName: When people talk about the color spectrum, they don't say "purple"; they say "indigo and violet". So violet gets it's own line and purple doesn't. If you are injured in the US military, you get a Purple Heart. I believe the "flyers" are the Stone Temple Pilots. I take back my criticisms. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Aug 27 '15 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Mythi purple prose was in fact the original intention of 'read me', but the book The Color Purple also worked. $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 27 '15 at 18:43
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Meter

Unfortunately, I don't see how this would make a good title, just yet.


Here is a riddle quite long

This is an important clue that should not need explaining.

I'm known to be unmatched in song.

First pun:

Meter also refers to the rhythmic structure of music.

The next two lines go back to the primary meaning:

You'll find me the whole world around
In nature 'tis true I abound

...

In various forms I am found.

My interpretation:

The meter forms the base for a variety of units with the addition of SI prefixes.

...

Confused for another
Get this: I'm her brother
Though our differences are well defined.

Now we are introduced the the "sister":

the yard.

The next stanza explores the relationship:

We're nothing alike, I insist
Her flowery form I resist

Now a pun on the the sister:

A yard is also an open area where flowers might grow.

...

Yet one step from outburst she is.

This appears to be a pun on:

The definition of a yard as being three feet long. An extra foot would be one "step" too far.

Now the heart of the riddle:

She's one of a number, all true
I'm not because I come from two
She gets her own line
I'll never have mine
You know me now surely, don't you?

Yes. That was very helpful:

The key to understanding this stanza is knowing the definition of a meter compared to a yard. The International System fixes the length of a meter using two criteria: the definition of the second and distance light travels in a fraction of a second. Meanwhile, a yard has been defined either by physical standards or in relation to a meter.

The penultimate stanza seems to be a grabbag of puns:

See me or listen for flyers
Read me or climb up much higher

I believe this refers to:

an altimeter, which sometimes has a voice readout.

But I'm less sure about:

And now I must sleep, for I tire.

Perhaps

a tire pressure gauge/meter?

Finally, a callback to the sister:

From all but one sense do we hide
My ghostly sister and I
She on a petal
Me on a metal
I've caused many rulers to die.

I see that the last line has been changed. Indeed, I was tipped off by the word that was altered.

Units of length can only be visualized; they have no taste, smell, feel or sound. Again, I believe the reference to "petal" is a pun on the garden meaning of yard. Metal rhymes, but might also be a reference to the definition of a second, which rests on the vibration of a caesium atom. The final line, in the form I quoted, probably refers to the changeover from imperial to metric units that ended the usefulness of many yardsticks/rulers.

Criticism

Assuming my answer is correct, this riddle leans a little too hard on puns that are a stretch. It could also use some condensing. Ideally, the rhyme would work on it's own and not require the answer to appreciate. But otherwise, well done.

(If I'm wrong, I bow to your superior puzzling. ;-)

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  • $\begingroup$ +1; I think you could be right! Sadly, if so, the riddle doesn't work so well in British English (where the unit of length is a metre but a gauge is still a meter) - maybe a good place for the new [american-english] tag... $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Aug 26 '15 at 21:12
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    $\begingroup$ Confused for another - get this I'm her brother, it's even more of a pun when you read it as "meet her" $\endgroup$ – Kingrames Aug 26 '15 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ Another valiant effort! I have a lot to say about it but will try to stay brief. 1. There is a variety of wordplay in the riddle, but not all puns and I don't feel that any are really a stretch 2. I wouldn't say it's superior puzzling, since it has inspired several apt but incorrect answers 3. You correctly identified the only sense that can detect this thing 4. The penultimate stanza is in fact a cornucopia of alternate ways to get the answer (disambiguations, if you will) 5. Very few lines are wasted. The first stanza is the only wasteful one, with only the last line pointing to the answer $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 26 '15 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ Oh and of course a +1 for a truly well thought out answer, albeit incorrect. One last comment would be that my answer, while it may require research to get every reference, will not require the level of detail you required (eg definition of a second involving caesium). And to rand's point, this thing has not regional alternates to my knowledge $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 26 '15 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ @NeedAName: Well, I'm stumped. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Jon Ericson Aug 26 '15 at 21:34
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I think the answer is:

hydrogen


You'll find me the whole world around

Hydrogen is the most plentiful element, making up over 90% of the atoms in the universe.

In nature 'tis true I abound

As said above, hydrogen is universally abundant and found in nature.

In various forms I am found.

There are 3 hydrogen isotopes: protium (1H), deuterium (2H), and tritium (3H).

I am a king of my kind

Hydrogen has the atomic number 1, and it's the head, or "king", of its period and group.

And yet I have been quite maligned

Hydrogen has been bad-mouthed for being extremely volatile and explosive. (i.e. the infamous Hindenburg disaster)

Confused for another

Confused for helium because they of their chemical symbols (He and H).

Get this: I'm her brother

Hydrogen and helium are metaphorically siblings, being that they were "born" at the same time (the Big Bang).

Though our differences are well defined.

Helium is atomically stable, a Noble Gas, and twice as heavy as hydrogen.

Her flowery form I resist

Hydrogen resists helium's flowery/elaborate/ornate form, and vice versa, because helium has a full valence shell of electrons and does not bond readily.

I'm more aggressive

Again, hydrogen is incredibly volatile and explosive.

She seems more passive

Helium is not reactive, because of its full valence shell.

Yet one step from outburst she is.

In the Sun, and general stars, helium is produced by the fusion of hydrogen. The outburst referenced is the death of a star: a supernova (or nova)

She's one of a number, all true

Helium is monatomic, meaning it is naturally found as a singular atom.

I'm not because I come from two

Hydrogen is diatomic, meaning it's naturally found bonded to itself.

She gets her own line

Referring to the Noble Gas period. (a column on the periodic table, which helium is a member of)

I'll never have mine

Hydrogen is off by itself in the upper left of the periodic table.

See me or listen for flyers

You would see a hydrogen bomb explosion, and could hear a blimp or dirigible fly over.

Read me or climb up much higher

The higher you go, the higher the concentration of hydrogen in the atmosphere will be.


The answer could also be helium, carbon, or nitrogen (which fit worse/better depending on the line). All of which I have another set of explanations for. I feel like hydrogen fits pretty well, though.

Oh, the benefits of high school chemistry.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think Oxygen and Ozone might be a better fit than hydrogen. $\endgroup$ – kanchirk Aug 26 '15 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ Ozone is 3 of a number. @kanchirk $\endgroup$ – Zach Gates Aug 26 '15 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ A valiant attempt (and a decent fit in several places) but not correct. Keep up the good work, a +1 for your efforts! $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 26 '15 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Is it an element at all? (Do I need to post my answers for the others?) @NeedAName $\endgroup$ – Zach Gates Aug 26 '15 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ It is not an element. $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 26 '15 at 18:32
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I'm not sure about this, but I think the answer could be:

Air

I'm known to be unmatched in song.
You'll find me the whole world around

Air can be found anywhere in the world

In nature 'tis true I abound

Air is commonly found in nature

You might not expect
But just recollect:
In various forms I am found.

Air can also be part of a storm, or it can be polluted

I am a king of my kind

It is one of the four elements

And yet I have been quite maligned Confused for another

It has been confused with fire

Get this: I'm her brother

His sister is fire, as it's another of four elements. It's his sister as fire needs air to burn.

Though our differences are well defined.

Fire is very different from air

We're nothing alike, I insist

Fire is very different from air

Her flowery form I resist

When air touches a fire, it warms up and goes upwards, away from it

I'm more aggressive

She seems more passive

Strong wind, or hurricanes can tear up trees or houses from the ground, while fire just burns them

Yet one step from outburst she is.

A fire can be controlled (for example if it's in a fireplace or a campfire), but it can also spread and be very damaging, like a forest fire

She's one of a number, all true

Fire is one of the four elements

I'm not because I come from two
She gets her own line
I'll never have mine
You know me now surely, don't you?

See me or listen for flyers

You can see the wind moving things, or you can hear planes, which wouldn't work without air.

Read me or climb up much higher

It's windier the higher you go

Once solving is done
Please pardon the pun

And now I must sleep, for I tire.

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    $\begingroup$ Once solving is done, please pardon the pun: "Heir" would be a good title to have indeed :D $\endgroup$ – Set Big O Aug 21 '15 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ This is not the correct answer; it doesn't fit enough lines well. When it clicks, almost every line will have some relevant meaning. But a good attempt nonetheless. Keep at it! $\endgroup$ – NeedAName Aug 21 '15 at 15:09

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