WORD ORDER EXERCISE
“The Red Wheelbarrow,” a famous poem by William Carlos Williams, reads:

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

Readers of this poem might wonder if anything really depends on the red wheelbarrow. Try altering the word order, though: What could you change without disrupting the sense of the poem? The whole poem depends on the red wheelbarrow. Maybe you came up with this:

“The Red Wheelbarrow”

so much depends
upon

the white
chickens

beside the red
wheelbarrow

glazed with rain
water

But does the title allow you to do that? And wouldn’t it be possible for a reader to say that the rainwater glazes the chickens as well as the wheelbarrow in your version?

Take the following poem and change around its word order as much as you are comfortable with. Then compare your version to the original. You haven't gained any words and you haven't lost any words, but what is different? Is there a new effect, a shift in emphasis? Write your responses in your notebook—this will be collated so that you can print or e-mail your work when you are finished.

“Presentiment—is that long Shadow—on the lawn—” by Emily Dickinson

Presentiment—is that long Shadow—on the lawn—
Indicative that Suns go down—

The notice to the startled Grass
That Darkness—is about to pass—


 
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