In Praise of the Adverb

This was an exercise: Write a poem that flies in the face of good advice. Most writers will recognize the advice I’m defying here. It’s often harder to follow in poetry than in prose, because adverbs are often lovely-sounding words. (And yes, I do usually remove them.) The sentence I use as an example is a real one; when I read it, I put down the book and laughed — not an expected reaction to a history book, and one I’ve never forgotten.

In Praise of the Adverb

They come so trippingly off the tongue, fall mellifluously,
Flow harmoniously, branch endlessly, flower profusely
Into comely comparison. How unfeelingly editorial
To raise the pen, slash mercilessly through L and Y,
Spill the blood of words that come to us so freely
And spread the laughter that’s inherently present in
“The army fled the field incontinently” — to exile
Permanently the image of rusted chainmail and
Soldiers careening randomly about a battleground
Leaving trails like spaniels greeting their new-returned
Masters exuberantly, exultantly, uncontrollably.


(photo: Wikipedia)


2 thoughts on “In Praise of the Adverb

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