I hope this is on topic here.

I am revising an original poem. No, I am not posting it or asking for a critique. I am intentionally using old-fashioned language. I would like to know if the concept of parallelism applies to 'abnormal' contractions (i.e. words contracted for rhythmic purposes).

A certain line could be written:

Ne'er woven before

or: Ne'er wov'n here before

Do guidelines exist for such situations? Must I contract woven because I contracted a similar word never?

  • 2
    In 'old-fashioned language' spelling and grammar were entirely optional, especially when it comes to poetry. Goe forth and multiplie say I. P.S. Never pass up on the opportunity to use 'ere!
    – JeffUK
    Aug 12 '20 at 14:06
  • But when rhyming 'ere, do remember that the 'ere in «over 'ere» does not rhyme with «'ere he came». Nor do «'ere 'e comes» and «'ere he comes». Aug 12 '20 at 14:51
  • Where is the parallel in removing a 'v' and removing an 'e'? Aug 12 '20 at 15:12
  • Shakespeare contracted or did not contract words depending on what made the poem scan. (He spelled murderous as murtherous and murdrous depending on whether he wanted it to be two or three syllables.) There's absolutely no reason to be consistent about using contractions in your poem. Aug 12 '20 at 15:13
  • @YosefBaskin I mean the words are similar, they both end with 'vex'. I suppose I could say wo'en but wov'n seems more natural to me. Aug 12 '20 at 15:18

The only guidelines I know of for such things are the collected works of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clive Staples Lewis (both were professors in English, one specialising in Anglo-Saxon and the other in Mediæval & Renaissance ~).

I'm half joking, but those are fairly well known and much of their work is available online or to be found in charity / second-hand bookshops here.

Otherwise, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and reading a lot of examples from the period you have in mind is probably the best you can do.

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.