every day melodies

“Every speaker, intuitively and accurately, courses gracefully through immensely subtle manipulations of sound. We not only indicate, for example, where the accent is in a word like “question,” but also preserve that accent while adding the difference between “Was that a question?” and “Yes, that was a question.”

It is almost as if we sing to one another all day.”

– Robert Pinsky, from The Sounds of Poetry: A Brief Guide

I printed the entire quote for context, but I was really after the last line, which is an example of what it’s talking about.

Say it out loud: “It is almost as if we sing to one another all day.”

I’ll guess that Pinsky didn’t put any great thought into the line. Regardless, he got it perfect. I played with variations, and in each case, some part of the singing goes away.

Example: It’s almost as if we sing to one another all day.

“It’s” instead of “It is” turns the sentence into journalism. Duly noted, but no more.

Example: It is as if we sing to one another all day.

I can still hear the melody, but losing “almost” makes the first few words like the cars in a train going past. Easier to lose the meaning with “It-is-as-if,” especially if you’re hearing it instead of reading.

Example: It is almost as if we sing to each other all day.

Close, to my ear. The other really good choice, but I still give the edge to “one another” over “each other.” “One another” sounds more like the Bible – “each other” sounds like the paperback translation for the kids.

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