I am working on the lyrics for one of my songs and english is not my first language. Here's the question - which of these sentences is correct?

  1. No thorns to prick your heart
  2. No thorns to prick your heart with

(Meaning that the character of the song has no 'thorns' (figuratively) he/she could use to prick the heart of the one he/she addresses to)

Thanks in advance

  • 1
    What does this have to do with the infinitive? Mar 11 '15 at 15:01
  • It sounds like you're actually asking about preposition usage.
    – Nicole
    Mar 11 '15 at 15:03
  • The 'with' here strongly connotes intentional use of an instrument (eg one of those things for getting stones out of horses' hooves with). Mar 11 '15 at 15:08
  • This has to do with the infinitive because thses are relative infinitives, which modify and refer to the nouns they follow. This coreference can be either with the subject of the infinitive, as in No thorns to prick your heart, where thorns is the subject of prick; or it can be with the object of the infinitive, as in No heart for thorns to prick; or it can be with the object of a preposition, as in No thorns to prick your heart with. All these are normal, common, conversational English constructions. Mar 11 '15 at 17:51

If they're song lyrics, you can choose either one and claim artistic license for lacking proper grammar. The most important part of lyrics is that they flow well with the music.

Artistic license (also known as dramatic license, historical license, poetic license, narrative license, licentia poetica, or simply license) is a colloquial term, sometimes euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist in the name of art.

(source: Wikipedia)


As Ian MacDonald has said, poets and song-writers will make free with niceties of grammar and be excused.

It seems clear to me that

No thorns to prick your heart

is by far the nicer phrase; that "with" on the end feels plodding. I might well use with earlier in the line:

And there wistful she stands with no thorns to prick your heart

but we find the English speakers elide such words. A song-writing tutor of mine spoke of vacuuming up the inessentials.

And there wistful she stands, no thorns to prick your heart

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.