I’d like to take a bomber
And drop bombs upon the comma,
Whose phrase attenuation
Is the bane of punctuation.
I always use too many;
In my prose they’re ten a penny,
While a lawyer, rather direly,
Has abolished them entirely.
A comma alters, meaning
Is the goal to which I’m leaning.
The comma’s like a word or tense,
Change it and you change the sense.
Omit it and you must work out
What the prose is all about.
The semi-colon is a snare:
How to use it, when and where?
But I am truly disconcerted
When the comma is inverted.
Use the single or the double?
Bound to get you into trouble.
To place quote marks within quotations
Can cause a war between two nations.
It’s all a little much for me.
And so I’ll let the reader pout
And grimace, and just sort it out.
By Robert Hanrott, from “The Rueful Hippopotamus”, available
from Amazon in the US and Europe