comma use [meaning]: with the big white eye of the moon which laughed

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Tamarin26, Oct 22, 2007.

  1. Tamarin26 Junior Member

    Hi there.

    I was wondering if my use of punctuation in the following sentence is correct or should there be a semi-colon or something in there. It just doesn't look right.

    We both fell for a long time, and the night fell too so as to accompany us, with the big white eye of the moon which laughed because it likes people who love.
     
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I don't see any punctuation problems. It's a charming sentence, if a little odd in spots.
     
  3. Trinibeens

    Trinibeens Senior Member

    NYC
    U.S. English
    Hi Tamarin,

    It's a beautiful thought. I might not be following the rules by doing this, but I would prefer it with one minor change:

    "We both fell for a long time, and the night fell too so as to accompany us, with the big white eye of the moon laughing, because it likes people who love."

    Just a suggestion from a former poetry writer...
     
  4. Vinlander Senior Member

    Canada, American English (mostly)
    To be poetic I would say, the following would be the way (sorry about that):

    "We both fell for a long time, and the night fell too so as to accompany us, with the big white eye of the moon laughing, because she likes people who love."

    Because 'its' don't normally love and because the moon, in this context and often poetically, is often (and appropriately I think, as the sun is usually conceived of as masculine) feminine (I know, the man in the moon, most unpoetic).

    Vinlander
     
  5. heaa Junior Member

    Hungary, Hungarian
    Hi!

    I may be wrong, but I would use a comma between 'moon' and 'which', to make it a non-defining clause:

    ...the big white eye of the moon, which laughed...

    Tell me if I'm wrong, please.
    Thanx
     
  6. Trinibeens

    Trinibeens Senior Member

    NYC
    U.S. English
    There's no need for sorrow, you are quite right. You made it better.:)
     
  7. Vinlander Senior Member

    Canada, American English (mostly)
    I was actually apologizing for the rather silly 'poetic' (better, poetical) introduction:

    To be poetic I would say,
    the following would be the way...

    Which is being unfair to poets I know (the meter is clumsy too).

    Vinlander
     
  8. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Maybe some tweaking:

    We fell and the night fell, too. The big, white eye of the moon laughingly accompanied us...shining soft smiles on two people in love.

    That's how I'd write what you wrote.

    This is how I'd punctuate your original:

    We fell and the night fell, too, so as to accompany us with the big, white eye of the moon...laughing, because it likes people who love.

    It's poetry, so throw in those ellipses, I say!

    Pretty...very pretty,Tamarin. :)

    AngelEyes
     
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Curious how the meaning is changing along with the minor changes.
    We both fell for a long time(, and the night fell too so as to accompany us,) with the big white eye of the moon which laughed (because it likes people who love).
    We fell.
    The night fell.
    The eye of the moon that laughed fell. (Had the moon laughed or just the eye :))

    We both fell for a long time(, and the night fell too so as to accompany us,) with the big white eye of the moon laughing(, because it likes people who love).
    We fell.
    The night fell.
    I don't know whether the eye of the moon fell with us or not, but it was actually laughing as we fell.

    We both fell for a long time(, and the night fell too so as to accompany us,) with the big white eye of the moon laughing(, because she likes people who love).
    Clearly this time it is the moon who likes people who love rather than just the eye of the moon.

    We both fell for a long time(, and the night fell too so as to accompany us,) with the big white eye of the moon(, which laughed because it likes people who love).
    We fell.
    The night fell.
    The eye of the moon that laughed fell. (Did the moon laugh or just the eye :))

    Silly, really - it's not sensible to try to analyse poetic writing in such pernickety detail :D
     
  10. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    To reiterate my original (and unabashed) position: the sentence, though a bit peculiar, works well, in my opinion. Its quirks are one reason why I enjoyed it so much.

    I know you're trying to help to help Tamarin26, and I'm sure he finds your suggestions instructive, but do I need to change my sig back to "Encourage and appreciate original and unusual phrasing?"

    I always think that it's the smallest changes and suggestions that can be the most enlightening. Less is more.
     
  11. Tamarin26 Junior Member

    Thank you all so much for your help. Much appreciated. :D
     
  12. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    Sorry, bibliolept, but he came to us and asked. You're entitled to your opinion, though.

    I think the lack of punctuation is distracting in an otherwise very pretty piece. If the question for feedback hadn't been solicited, I'd have kept my mouth shut.

    But it's too late now because it's been posted.

    All points of view are important to writers. It makes us think.

    And if our silly responses can affect his writing, then it proves he's not too happy with it to begin with.

    In my mind, that's a great test: Can someone's critique sway my writing? Then the doubt was there beforehand, and it's a favor to have it crystallized.

    On the contrary, if suggestions and criticisms are fluffed off, then the writer knows he's being true to himself and he's written a keeper.

    AngelEyes
     
  13. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Tamarin asked specifically about punctuation. That should have been the foremost focus of the answers given. Right off the bat, in comment #2, someone is already suggesting word changes. I certainly don't want to argue, but even when people wrote things like "this is how I'd punctuate your original," some of the wording was also changed.

    This can be conflated with the second thrust of my comments: suggesting minimal changes and explaining our reasoning can be a superbly effective approach to teaching writing.

    The last reason why I jumped into the fray was because not all writers are as assertive and self-confident as they "should" be; I wanted to point out, as many of you already did, that Tamarin's writing was laudable. Thus, I at least don't feel guilty about writing in again to tell him that, in my opinion, there is actually nothing wrong with his sentence. It is original, understandable, reasonably "correct," enjoyable, and engaging.
     
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Thanks bibliolept.
    Your point is indeed what I was trying to suggest in a rather tortuous and peculiar way.
    Resolving a punctuation issue, as requested, is one thing.
    Changing the words and the meaning should be done with care, or perhaps not at all if not requested.
     
  15. AngelEyes Senior Member

    English - United States
    In my opinion, you can't add punctuation without changing the words at least a little!

    I stand by my former answers, and anyone who knows me and has read any of my stuff, knows I don't ever come here to hurt anyone.

    And besides, I think it's prettily written and stated that.

    Still, the words don't make sense if you just added punctuation.

    That was the original request: if we thought it needed it and, if it did, how would we suggest it be added.

    :(

    AngelEyes
     

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