Thomas Disch, RIP
Don’t have much to say about it, really, because I never read him much. His prose mostly did not appeal to me, and his criticism even less so.
But sometimes his poetry was amazing. He did a series of poems, collected as A Child’s Garden of Grammar, that I adored.
Here are two of my favorites:
Not, that nasty little snot,
Must always disagree.
If you express the simplest thought,
He’ll say it cannot be.
He’ll look you in the eye and say
Your nose is not your own.
“Good morning,” you’ll say. “What a very nice day!”
“It’s not,” says he. “Not good at all.”
And if you ask him why,
He’ll only turn away and drawl,
“I can’t explain. Good-bye.”
Gradually they took control.
They would ask each innocent verb
Who came in to the employment office
How she conceived her role
As an employee of Grammar, Inc.
Such questions naturally gave one to think
Even if one were an adjective,
Living a modestly adjectivial life
Out in the suburbs—
To think, that is to say, of what
May actually have been meant by saying
Stop or Go or Do or Dare.
Soon there were adverbs everywhere—
Not just those who’d taken up with verbs
But insidiously clever adverbs
Modifying adjectives!—and even each other!!
The other parts of speech were aghast.
How might they, in plain fairness, resist
These steady adverbial encroachments?
The adjectives suggested, “Let’s be more precise.”
The verbs agreed: “That would be nice.”
And that’s how the adverbs were finally,
Though not completely, defeated.
Seriously, who knew grammar could be that much fun?