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Observing Syntax

And just to give you some examples on how the plot and the interpretation of the written passage changes according to the syntax used, please consider the following pieces:

René Descartes

Descartes said in his time “I think, therefore I am.” – but how would that sound and endured the passing of time if he said “I am because I think.” – can you feel the difference?

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway said in an equally spectacular way:

“Living was a horse between your legs and a carbine under one leg and a valley and a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley and the hills beyond.”

Note there is no punctuation to impede the pace of your reading – it’s just you on your horse and away like the wind.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

In a sonnet titled "Ozymandias", the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote:

“Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

In this piece of writing you have drama, if your mind can just instruct your eyes to follow the syntax by roaming away from the broken statue in the foreground and out until the focus becomes vague in the distant immeasurable waste of level sands.

John Donne

John Donne created a similar strong drama in his last sermon, where he effectively traces the gradual process of total disintegration:

“Even those bodies that were the temple of the Holy Ghost come to this dilapidation, to ruin, to rubbish, to dust.”

William Shakespeare

And last, but not least, for the jewel in the crown, let’s read from the works of our master Shakespeare:

Life’s but a walking shadow; a poor player,
Who struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing…

His syntax , superbly leading you through its ‘sound and fury’ down to the stark conclusion of nothing – it mirrors Macbeth’s disillusionment and final total rejection of life.

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