The exemplary sentence

Regular readers know I stole this category from Mark Doty’s blog. And now I’ve stolen an image of a diagrammed sentence from another blog I like, Jottings, by Jim to be its icon.  Does anyone under 50 even know what diagramming a sentence means?

In any case, I keep my eye out for intriguing sentences, and I’ve collected a few here.

The first is by Tony Hoagland (mentioned several times in these pages) on a poem in very stripped down format–few verbs or adjectives (from real sofistikashun), which I am slowly reading for the second time:

Scoff cautiously at this kind of essentialism.  

This sentence stopped me when I read it and sent me to the computer to capture it. I love the internal rhyme of the first two words, the compressed diction of the admonition, and its sweetly didactic tone, softened by all those s’s. Plus that section of the book, “Fragment, Juxtaposition, and Completeness,” has altered my thinking about a category of poetry that I actively disliked, and made me more open to seeing its value.  How rare that something I read actually alters a previously held set of beliefs!

This one is from a book translated (beautifully) from the Dutch by Joseph O’Neill, called Amsterdam Stories, by Nescio:

In the north the darkness was gulping down the light, the mountain was nearly swallowed up, the day’s last escort fled to the northwest and I stood on the little bridge on the edge of nothingness, enveloped in infinity.

A book worth reading.

And finally, from last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine article,  “The Autism Advantage” by Gareth Cook, came this sentence, describing one of the high-functioning autistic adults in the social environment of the office:

The concept of socially mandated dishonesty would mystify him…

A lesson we perhaps all could absorb to our benefit!

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