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Dear Learned Grammarians,

I am reveiwing a poem of mine in which I describe a plane death spiralling from the skies. While I realise that in every day language and conversation I would most likely refer to 'sky' instead of 'skies', and that in poetry 'skies' has historically been permissable, is this still the case today? Or am I being quaintly old-fashioned?

Many thanks in advance for your shared wisdoms.

Cheers Sam

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, tchrist Aug 19 '18 at 14:30

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  • I did see those posts. My query relates to what is mainstream practice in poetry today. I don't believe that has been covered. – Sam Clements Aug 19 '18 at 10:58
  • The usage of "skies" seems fairly even throughout the ages, according to Ngram. Despite its declining usage as of late, the word's not at all archaic and I can still see it having its place in contemporary literature. – VTH Aug 19 '18 at 11:03
  • Thank you for your reply, thoughts, and the useful reference to Ngram, which highlights I see an interesting divergence between the use of 'sky' and 'skies'! – Sam Clements Aug 19 '18 at 11:14
  • If it's your poem you can do anything you like with it. It all depends on what you want to mean. If you don't know what you want to mean, you ought to settle that issue first. – Robusto Aug 19 '18 at 13:01

I can say skies when I mean, simply, the plural of sky:

the December night skies this year have been marvellously clear;

the skies over London, Bristol and Cardiff were cloudy every day this week.

When something falls from the skies (or the heavens) it seems, to me, that the sense is not plural. And the effect, for me, is to introduce a meaning, at least in part, metaphorical rather than literal.

Both usages sound contemporary. Unsurprisingly the 'literal' usage is more common.

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