I was amused with the introductory part of the New York Times’ article（September 13) by Dick Cavett called “As comics say, ‘These kids today! I tell ya!’” that begins:
“Many and many a year ago, in the kingdom of ABC, Woody Allen was one of my very first guests. And we consented to take questions from an eager audience of mostly young people. Like ourselves. The questioner looked like a high school girl and shouted to Woody from the balcony,
“Do you think sex is dirty?”
Allen: “It is if you do it right.”
Besides Allen’s exquisite riposte, I was drawn to the beginning words, “Many and many a year ago”.
Is it the same as “many many years ago”? Why is ‘year’ in a singular form when you are referring to multiple years' time span?
Is “many and many a” an idiom, or a set pattern of phrase? Can I say 'I bought many and many a book this month" instead of 'I bought many books this month,' and 'I have many and many a question to post in EL&U' instead of 'I have a lot of questions ---'?