I’m working on a children’s picture book, for which the text is a poem.
I was trying to figure out the best way to write a certain line, and pursuant to our little dicussion on syntax (in the comments of the Poetry Challenge Three post) I decided to figure out how many ways I could arrange the words in the line without destroying the sense. I was surprised to find that when I split the line up into blocks of meaning, rather than into words, there were a limited but really large number of ways to say what I wanted to say, even given a strict menu of words.
In other words, I could have randomly mixed the words thus:
Dragon me surged at the slowly –
and that’s a tortured line. But when I broke the line up into four meaning blocks
the whole map of possible arrangements became clearly visible. It was surprising mostly because I never realized what a large number of possibilities the English language makes available to us. Of course in classical languages it is possible to say “at me” as one word anyhow.
This discovery should help a lot with rhyming. Some possibilities are more obscure than others, but still.
Here they are.
Slowly the dragon surged at me.
Slowly the dragon at me surged.
Slowly at me the dragon surged
Slowly at me surged the dragon.
Slowly surged the dragon at me.
Slowly surged at me the dragon.
At me the dragon slowly surged.
At me the dragon surged slowly.
At me slowly surged the dragon.
At me slowly the dragon surged.
At me surged slowly the dragon.
At me surged the dragon slowly.
Surged the dragon at me slowly.
Surged the dragon slowly at me.
Surged at me slowly the dragon.
Surged at me the dragon slowly.
Surged slowly at me the dragon.
Surged slowly the dragon at me.
The dragon slowly surged at me.
The dragon slowly at me surged.
The dragon at me slowly surged.
The dragon at me surged slowly.
The dragon surged slowly at me.
The dragon surged at me slowly.
Each of these makes perfect sense, though some are a little awkward.