Vernon Scannell |
Perhaps I can make it plain by analogy.
Imagine a machine, not yet assembled,
Each part being quite necessary
To the functioning of the whole: if the job is fumbled
And a vital piece mislaid
The machine is quite valueless,
The workers will not be paid.
It is just the same when constructing a sentence
But here we must be very careful
And lay stress on the extreme importance
Of defining our terms: nothing is as simple
As it seems at first regard.
"Sentence" might well mean to you
The amorous rope or twelve years" hard.
No, by "sentence" we mean, quite simply, words
Put together like the parts of a machine.
Now remember we must have a verb: verbs
Are words of action like Murder, Love, or Sin.
But these might be nouns, depending
On how you use them –
Already the plot is thickening.
Except when the mood is imperative; that is to say
A command is given like Pray, Repent, or Forgive
(Dear me, these lessons get gloomier every day)
Except, as I was saying, when the mood is gloomy –
I mean imperative
We need nouns, or else of course
Pronouns; words like Maid,
Man, Wedding or Divorce.
A sentence must make sense.
Sometimes I believe
Our lives are ungrammatical.
I guess that some of
Have misplaced the direct object: the longer I live
The less certain I feel of anything I do.
But now I begin
Write down these simple sentences:--
I am sentenced: I love: I murder: I sin.
Edgar Lee Masters |
When I died, the circulating library
Which I built up for Spoon River,
And managed for the good of inquiring minds,
Was sold at auction on the public square,
As if to destroy the last vestige
Of my memory and influence.
For those of you who could not see the virtue
Of knowing Volney's "Ruins" as well as Butler's "Analogy"
And "Faust" as well as "Evangeline,"
Were really the power in the village,
And often you asked me,
"What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?"
I am out of your way now, Spoon River,
Choose your own good and call it good.
For I could never make you see
That no one knows what is good
Who knows not what is evil;
And no one knows what is true
Who knows not what is false.
Edwin Arlington Robinson |
Like a dry fish flung inland far from shore,
There lived a sailor, warped and ocean-browned,
Who told of an old vessel, harbor-drowned,
And out of mind a century before,
Where divers, on descending to explore
A legend that had lived its way around
The world of ships, in the dark hulk had found
Anchors, which had been seized and seen no more.
Improving a dry leiure to invest
Their misadventure with a manifest
Analogy that he may read who runs,
The sailor made it old as ocean grass--
Telling of much that once had come to pass
With him, whose mother should have had no sons.