Construing poetic diction and syntax
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Construing Poetic Diction and Syntax. Say , Father Thames! ––for thou hast seen Full many a sprightly race, Disporting on thy margent green , The paths of pleasure trace ; Who foremost now delight to cleave With pliant arm thy glassy wave? The captive linnet which enthrall?

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Construing Poetic Diction and Syntax

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Construing poetic diction and syntax

Construing Poetic Diction and Syntax


Construing poetic diction and syntax

Say, Father Thames! ––for thou hast seen

Full many a sprightly race,

Disporting on thy margent green,

The paths of pleasure trace;

Who foremost now delight to cleave

With pliant arm thy glassy wave?

The captive linnet which enthrall?

What idle progeny succeed

To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?


Construing poetic diction and syntax

Say, Father Thames, for thou hast seen full many a sprightly race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ...


Construing poetic diction and syntax

poetic diction: the word choice, sentence structures, and figures of speech used in poetry insofar as they deviate from ordinary speech


Principles for working with poetic diction with caveats

principles for working with poetic diction, with caveats:

  • See the sentences comprised by the lines.

    Caveat: in 20th C poetry especially, sometimes the lines don't add up to sentences.

    2) Figure out literal meaning before jumping to a metaphorical one. Caveat: in 20th C (and later) poetry especially, the combination of words won't necessarily make literal sense

    3) Read slowly, and several times.


Construing poetic diction and syntax

ode: a long lyric poem, with a serious subject and formal, elevated language.

encomiastic: written to praise someone or something


Construing poetic diction and syntax

O Wind, thou...

Thou, from whose...

O Thou,

Who...

Wild Spirit...

hear, O hear!


Construing poetic diction and syntax

If I were...

If I were...

If even...

I were...

I would ne'er have striven...

Oh! lift me...

I fall...

A heavy weight...


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