Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

NPM: #26–a gift

A Gift

Leonora Speyer

I Woke: —
Night, lingering, poured upon the world
Of drowsy hill and wood and lake
Her moon-song,
And the breeze accompanied with hushed fingers
On the birches.

Gently the dawn held out to me
A golden handful of bird’s-notes.

I hand out over 200 literary terms to my AP students to learn prior to their May exam. They manage to do so for the most part. Admittedly, some of the terms I keep having to remind myself of what they are, others stick in the brain and I delight when I recognize them. One such term is “polysyndenton” which is when the writer strings a series of words, usually nouns or verbs, together with a conjunction such as “and.” At first glance the reader might think, “combine that, if you please–a bit wordy and redundant, don’t you think?” Once understanding the use of polysyndenton, the reader gets that second understanding that there is a purpose to the stringing together of words. Why say you of Speyer’s writing of “hill and wood and lake”–is it superflous or meaningful?

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6 thoughts on “NPM: #26–a gift

  1. I’ve used that technique in my novel but never knew there was a term for it. Now I do! Let’s just hope I can remember it…

  2. Yes, I think it’s an important and useful device. It conveys a certain rhythmic quality and allows the reader to linger on the individual pieces before moving on. The term “drowsy” makes the reader want to linger, too. “hill and wood and lake” is very different from hill, wood, and lake. The latter moves by far too quickly. So, yes, I’m a fan.

  3. I use that technique once in a while. When I do it, though, it is more like blathering.

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