Capitalization and Punctuation : Fun With Grammar
Poetic License Instructions:
Below are two poems about the earth by American poets Victor Hernandez Cruz and e e cummings. Both poets have felt free to ignore standard capitalization and punctuation rules in order to emphasize other aspects of language. The point of this game is to see what happens when you put the poems into standard sentence form.
Victor Hernandez Cruz's poetry often mixes Spanish and English. In this poem, he lines up one language opposite the other. Choose one of the columns, depending on which language you prefer to play with.
Cruz has used all capital letters and no punctuation in his poem. Write the poem in sentence form, capitalizing only those words that need it and punctuating for standard sentences. Look for four sentences.
If you can, compare the sentences in the two different languages. Is the punctuation different? Discuss the images and the ideas in the poem with other students. It may help to decide who is being addressed with the word "you" in the poem's sixth line.
Ver- sion ción EACH LITTLE CADA PORE PORO HAS A LIGHT TIENE UNA LUZ AND DARKNESS Y AFUERA OUTSIDE OSCURIDAD YOU SHINE TU BRILLAS ONE HALF UNA MITAD GREEN VERDE THE OTHER Y LA OTRA BLUE AZUL WHAT A PICTURE QUE PELICULA LAND TIERRA THAT QUE JUMPS OUT BRINCA DEL THE WATER AGUA SALT COMES OUT SALE SAL OUT OF YOUR DE TUS BONES HUESOS TO MAKE PARA HACER MEAT CARNE WITH AIR CON AIRE LIKE POCKETS COMO BOSILLOS WITH MATCHES CON FOSFOROS INSIDE ADENTRO
e e cummings doesn't even capitalize his own name. Although he has included some punctuation in the following poem, he has done so in an unusual way, and he has left out other punctuation marks that would help readers see the sentence structure in the poem.
Write the poem as three sentences with standard capitalization and punctuation.
Is the poem easier to understand in sentence form? Discuss the images and the ideas in the poem with other students. What are the advantages of the form that e e cummings used? What are the advantages of the sentence form?O sweet spontaneous
earth how often have
prurient philosophers pinched
, has the naughty thumb
of science prodded
beauty . how
often have religions taken
thee upon their scraggy knees
buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive
to the incomparable
couch of death thy
them only with
Click here to see these poems in standard sentence forms (in both English and Spanish for Cruz's poem). But wait until you have come up with your own "translated" versions.