Prepositions: a poem

Preposition: n. a function word that typically comes before a noun phrase to form a modifying phrase – examples: with, for, up, in out, of, beside

I always loved grammar, especially diagramming sentences. It made the language so orderly.

Thanks to Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, which arrives in my inbox every day, I learned about  humorist and biographer Morris Bishop, born this day in 1893, who wrote a poem about prepositions.

[Bishop] was a brilliant scholar, fluent in German, Swedish, French, Spanish, Latin, and modern Greek. He wrote biographies of Pascal, Champlain, La Rochefoucauld, Petrarch, and St. Francis. But we remember him best as the author of light verse, such as this:

I lately lost a preposition:
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair.
And angrily I cried: “Perdition!
Up from out of in under there!”

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor;
And yet I wondered: “What should he come
Up from out of in under for?”

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4 responses to “Prepositions: a poem

  1. Thanks for your post.

    I love diagramming sentences too! It seems we love it for the same reason as well. Diagramming sentences is like having a clean house with everything in its place.

    If you’re interested, see my website all about sentence diagramming.

  2. Elizabeth – what a hoot! I had no idea someone would create an entire website devoted to diagramming sentences – and make it so interesting. I just edited this post to add links to your site. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Pingback: Transcription of Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 19 (Dec 2010) – opportunities « Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog