Posts Tagged ‘Strunk and White’



Make definite assertions. Avoid tame, colorless hesitating, noncommittal language. Use the word not as a means of denial or in antithesis, never as a means of evasion.

            —Elements of Style, Strunk & White



It would be less preferred

to say of the baby quail

that “It did not survive”

when the falcon

went hunting

along the side of the cliff.

Better, say the experts,

to make definite assertions,

“It died.”

It’s rule twelve:

“Put statements

in positive form.”

But what to say

of the inner fight,

how the soul cheers

for the falcon in flight—

all grace and ferocity,

precision, might.

While the heart

can’t help but cheer

for that bumbling chick

brown-striped, blameless,

chirp and slip.

It’s not that the heart

is trying to evade,

not trying to lie,

it just wants

to build a small hope

for us all with the word survive

something to soften the truth—

all things die.


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