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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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?


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


poetic diction: race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ...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: race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ...

  • 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.


ode: race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ... a long lyric poem, with a serious subject and formal, elevated language.

encomiastic: written to praise someone or something


O Wind race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ..., thou...

Thou, from whose...

O Thou,

Who...

Wild Spirit...

hear, O hear!


If I were.. race trace the paths of pleasure (while) disporting on thy margent green, ....

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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