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  • Ulysses

    ...; and though
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I've just seen M quoting this poem in the movie Skyfall. She started with "We are not now that strength," omitting the conjunction right before we, which is though. Shouldn't she have started from though, not we? I, at first, couldn't get the meaning as the conjunctuon was omitted, while watching the movie--the we are, we are part. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to start from though because that way listeners could interpret the quote a bit better even though they had never seen the poem. I mean, if you happened to quote this poem, where would you start? Though or we?

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You say "I was asking if it is okay to omit the conjunction though when quoting the poem above."

Consider: The sentence

We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven.

In fact reduces to nothing more than this:

We are not now very strong.

or even more simply, you can reduce it to this:

We are weak.

As you can see, that is an utterly normal, absolutely-OK-to-say sentence. Right?

So in answer to your question, "I was asking if it is okay to omit the conjunction though when quoting the poem above.", the answer is a firm

Yes.

There's nothing to it. It's a completely valid sentence, utterly normal, with the usual gramattical bits and pieces.

However, furthermore...

Be aware that:

Regarding grammar in poetry: it's rather meaningless. If you wrote down the whole selection above as "one sentence" (i.e., dropping the newlines, and dropping the capitals) it would be more or less meaningless.

At the very least, you'd have to insert some ":" cheat punctuation to make it sort of make sense. There are any number of examples of famous verse fragments that are pretty meaningless grammatically. (Indeed, just my personal opinion, the translation above, that poetry in English, is really a shambles. It's quite poor. The writer is kind of getting away with "stringing together phrases" because it kind of makes sense in a spoken format.)

So when you ask "can I omit the conjunction?" the problem is this: with, or without, the conjuction, if you write down the entire thing ("as if one sentence"), it is ungrammatical / senseless anyway!

"Shouldn't she have..." "If she didn't why not?" Poetry is typically more about "sentence fragments" than strict grammar. It's rather like asking if the grammar is "correct" in a ad headline or indeed a pop song. The conventional rules of grammar in written English are largely irrelevant.

  • I wasn't trying to say I didn't get the meaning of sentence. I was asking if it is okay to omit the conjunction though when quoting the poem above. – hjjg200 Jun 28 '15 at 6:24
  • OK, I have edited it further. – Fattie Jun 28 '15 at 6:30

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