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Aug. 18th, 2009 07:44 pm grammatical dilemma

Usually, I pride myself on being a grammarian. Still, I am a product of the environment in which I was raised.

My family on my father's side hails historically from South Carolina. Over the years, I'd conformed much of the erroneous language I'd incorporated in my youth to standard English, but recently I have run into an issue and it is now pressing itself upon me. (If this question is not appropriate for this community, please delete the post with my apology.)

I am writing a sonnet (a sequence of sonnets, actually) with a nonce rhyme scheme of aabbccddeeff. In the first stanza, I have the following lines:

She hung, a scythe of skin, until he drug
her to the sand, this makeshift holy rug.

Thinking about this today, I was not sure if the line should read "he drug" or "he had drug", which will give you an indication of the depths of my ignorance. I decided to try to find clarification online, wherein I read that "[t]he use of 'drug' as a past-tense of 'drag' is frowned on by grammar experts" and that one "would be wise [...] to refrain from ever using 'drug' for 'dragged.'"

I accept this as a strict grammarian; however, as a poet, I am in a quandary. The poem does employ slant (imperfect) rhyme, but even with such leniency I feel that "dragged" does not truly phonetically mirror "rug".

Would you suggest that I keep to standard grammar, or should I rather claim poetic license?

(This entry is cross-posted.)

10 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Flag Next Entry


Date:August 20th, 2009 09:47 am (UTC)
mm, perhaps arbitrarily, i feel more standardized/academic versions of poetry do not outstrip grammatical integrity.

she hung, a scythe of skin, until he dragged
her to the sand, that makeshift hallowed flag.

replacing "this" with "that".
and "hallowed"/"holy". because 'hallowed flag' sounds better than 'holy flag' to me, but this isn't my piece.
of course, i have no idea where else you're going with this piece, and i'm merely functioning on an all-over out-of-context basis.
i just tend to think "scythe" in kind of an "upright piece of thing on which you can hang stuff once you're done slicing up the figurative shizdiggy" basis.

what do i know.
Date:August 27th, 2009 07:20 am (UTC)
Thanks for your input. I appreciate the thought you put into your reply.
Date:August 20th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
I'm not a poet myself [unless forced into it by academics,] but I think you've got all the poetic license in the world. Poetry has never uniformly stuck to grammatical principles.

If it's important to you to keep it perfectly within grammar laws, then you might have to rework it. But otherwise, use the words that sound good to you. You're writing a poem, not a paper.
Date:August 27th, 2009 07:23 am (UTC)
I appreciate your sentiment. As I said, I'd crossposted this, and in another community two separate commenters noted that they'd misread the word the exact same way. Also, it took them out of the poem. That gave me enough reason to make a decision.
Date:August 20th, 2009 01:03 pm (UTC)
Use drug, for Christ's sake. Shakespeare never cared about grammar.
Date:August 20th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
IAWTC. Like, times 10.
Date:August 20th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
I edited a friend's book of sonnets. I would have told him to keep it--in poetry, getting the image across is more important than nitpicking past tenses or conforming to standard dialects. If anything, it gives your poetry more flavor as a southerner, and that can be a good thing.

P.S. I'm a child of Texans who was born and raised in New York, and every so often I find myself slipping into their usages. I'm rather fond of it, but then it's usually harmless stuff. I've been known to say "drug".
Date:August 20th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
It would be far, far better to use "drug" than to try and force any sort of bastardized 'rhyme' of dragged/rug.
Date:August 20th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC)
If you want to be completely wrong, that's your privilege.
Date:February 5th, 2010 10:11 am (UTC)

As a long-time writer of Rhyme, I learned the hard lessons. Mistake number one was in asking others what they thought! When my 25 year old niece was in the 4th grade, (back when she was nine, that is...) she had to write a poem for class. "They" (the Family), sent her to me. We ended up with a short verse about Pepper and I came away with the knowledge that I should, must and would, write to please myself.

I've never attempted to publish, as I write under my own rules, to please myself. If I'm satisfied with the outcome, then what care I, about the jeers or cheers of the "Great Unwashed"! (Said with tongue-in-cheek, to hide that silly grin on my face.)

Seriously, you are to be the best judge of what you want to say. My other advice, is to read aloud. Let your ears hear your meter, words, intentions and you will know what you have! :o)

Edited at 2010-02-05 10:12 am (UTC)