Jun 13, 2007

Grammar Lesson...I Think Not!

Previously, I discussed how poets can turn readers onto another perspective regarding a given topic. The poem I selected from Poet Lore's Summer 2007 issue highlights another quality of poetry--the imagination.

"On the Origin of Punctuation Marks" by Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck, the poet postulates how punctuation came to be as we know it. As a writer, I fully understand the power of words, but without punctuation, much of each word's emphasis could be lost in breath. Klise von Zerneck suggests these punctuation marks fell from trees, like branches, bark, or acorns would, and bent or rolled upon hitting the ground.

As the poet discusses the random ways in which these marks are shaped by the environment into which they fell, the reader can picture the periods, question marks, and exclamation points as much more than grammatical elements. "The bent twigs paused, and wavered, caught against/" and "pods burrowed deep, and deeper, then reversed/ and grew up toward the sky...some straight as reeds/" Too many of us forget the beauty of punctuation, not only as a means to provide meaning and power behind our words, but also as aesthetic adornment on the page.

So ends my grammar lesson.


Anna said...

Until reading that poem, I'd never thought of punctuation as a thing of beauty. I have always understood how inserting a single form of punctuation can dramatically change the meaning or the power behind words.

Then there are writers (Joseph Conrad, anyone?) who use so much punctuation you can't get past a single sentence.

Balance is the key to the beauty of punctuation.

Serena said...

Yeah, I agree on that Joseph Conrad guy...I think I read maybe one paragraph of that novel we were reading...if you can call it a novel...maybe it was a novella..."Heart of Darkness."

I really like the poems in this issue of Poet Lore, as you can tell. Maybe the next post will be about a poem from a different journal. Who knows? I don't plan on predicting where my posts will go.

Anna said...

I think you should also discuss "Clytemnestra." Oh, and that Poet Lore poem about the mother.

I think "Heart of Darkness" was supposed to be a novella, but it was more of a tome. I don't know how anyone could succeed at making such interest subject matter into a story that puts you to sleep after one sentence.

Serena said...

I would have to find that story in agni! LOL Did you give that back to me already?! I think you did. I'll have to search for it.

Joseph Conrad just had issues...wasn't he also the guy who used Marlow repeatedly in all his works?

Anna said...

Not sure about the Marlowe thing, but I vaguely remember Cortland saying something about that. But then again, I spent most of my time in that class doodling so I wouldn't have to look at him and crack up laughing.

Serena said...

you were doodling and i was snoozing!

Anna said...

And we traded places in Cole's class!