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Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines), by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, is a melancholic love poem from Neruda's album Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair.

Conceptually, this poem expresses Neruda's longing for his lost love, and the pain he feels in her absence. As he observes the vastness of the night sky, he is reminded of the nights they spent together beneath the same sky, and as he remembers, his pain intensifies.

Throughout, the poem calls attention to itself as a poem (for example, the way that the title acknowledges that the author "Can Write"), and the process of writing acts as a journey for Neruda to lament his loss and move on from it. This is especially evidenced by the last stanza:

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

The notable linguistic elements of this poem are:

  • Repetition
  • Personification
  • Magnification

One example of repetition is the title phrase ("Tonight I can write the saddest lines"), which repeats three times throughout, creating a cadence and circular movement to the poem, almost like a beating drum. This suggests the way the poet is coming back to the same thoughts of his lost love again and again.

The word night(s) repeats nine times throughout the poem, and with each repetition, we learn more about the poet's relationship with his love. The word night almost acts a trigger, sparking imagery that brings his relationship—and his now loneliness—vividly to life for the reader.

An example of personification is in the second stanza:

The night is starry and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.

The stars are given the human quality of being able to shiver, conveying the poet's deep sense of how cold the night is without the human warmth of his love.

The night wind is personified in stanza 3:

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

The word "sings" suggests a movement throughout the sky imbued with feeling, perhaps to juxtapose the emptiness the poet feels in its presence.

An example of magnification is in the line "The same night whitening the same trees," where the poet draws our attention to the sameness of the night to magnify how very different his experience is in the night without his love next to him.

And one of Neruda's most famous lines, "Love is so short, forgetting is so long," similarly magnifies his experience of loss, noting that in happiness, time seems to pass so quickly, whereas in sadness, time seems to stretch on forever.


An allusion is a reference to something – often a historic or literary reference – used in writing to help a reader understand an idea/situation/person on a deeper level.


An allusion is a literary device, a technique used by writers to create a specific style/feel/flow to their work.

An allusion is a brief reference to something – a person, place, thing – that helps a reader to understand the scene/context better. It calls upon the reader's knowledge of history, literary references, famous people and places in hopes that the reference will do a good job of illuminating what the writer is hoping to express.


  • "He's a real Romeo, that guy!" (This is an allusion to Romeo from Romeo and Juliet who is known as a real romantic. The reference is supposed to allow the reader to quickly understand the character's style)
  • "Let's not open the safe quite yet. Could be a real Pandora's box." (This allusion to the Greek myth, Pandora's Box, implies to readers that whatever is in the safe might be full of secrets that will lead to bad consequences)


The word scented can be used either as a #color(blue)(verb)# or an #color(red)(adjective)#.


Here's an example of how it can be used a verb:

"All was still and Sundayfied; the lilacs in full flower #color(blue)(scented)# the air."

In this case, the word scented is the action the lilacs are taking on the air, and thus functions as a verb.

Here's a slightly different example:

"James #color(blue)(scented)# something suspicious in this courtesy."

In this one, the word scented is the action taken by James, used in a similar way as "James smelled something ...".

Here's an example of how it can be used as an adjective:

"Did someone light a #color(red)(scented)# candle? This room suddenly smells like jasmine!"

the word scented describes the noun candle, acting as an adjective.

In this second example:

"The flower is sweet-#color(red)(scented)# at night and has curiously fringed petals."

sweet-scented describes the flower, acting as a compound adjective.

One example is A Visit from the Goon Squad, Chapter 10 ("Out of Body"), the only chapter that does this in this book!

An excerpt from it, from the second person POV of Robert Freeman Jr., is the following (I'll analyze it in bold).

You look at Drew through layers of hash smoke floating in the sun. He’s leaning back on the futon couch, his arm around Sasha. He’s got a big, hey-come-on-in face and a head of dark hair, and he’s built— not with weight-room muscle like yours, but in a basic animal way that must come from all that swimming he does.

“Just don’t try and say you didn’t inhale,” you tell him.

Rob comes into a room and sees Drew (smoking) and Sasha. Apparently, Rob works out, and is trying to prove himself better than Drew because he says he has that "weight-room muscle", and Drew is just built from swimming like a "basic animal".

Everyone laughs except Bix, who’s at his computer, and you feel like a funny guy for maybe half a second, until it occurs to you that they probably only laughed because they could see you were trying to be funny, and they’re afraid you’ll jump out the window onto East Seventh Street if you fail, even at something so small.

Sounds like Rob is insecure, because for some reason, he feels he has an obligation to succeed, such as at making people laugh.

Drew takes a long hit. You hear the smoke creak in his chest. He hands the pipe to Sasha, who passes it to Lizzie without smoking any.

“I promise, Rob,” Drew croaks at you, holding in smoke, “if anyone asks, I’ll tell them the hash I smoked with Robert Freeman Jr. was excellent.”


Through these contextual clues:

  • he’s built— not with weight-room muscle like yours, but in a basic animal way that must come from all that swimming he does
  • until it occurs to you that they probably only laughed because they could see you were trying to be funny, and they’re afraid you’ll jump out the window onto East Seventh Street if you fail

We can determine that:

  • Rob is insecure for some reason (he actually feels like he disappointed his dad, but that's outside the scope of the excerpt).
  • Rob wants to prove himself.
  • Rob thinks proving himself means getting the better of Drew.


Now imagine if this was somehow in third person omniscient. You would basically replace every instance saying "you [verb]" with "Rob [verb]". In that POV, the narrator is observing all the people in the room, and just giving a glimpse of each person's behavior at a time during each observation. The narrator knows how every person in the room feels, but doesn't explicitly demonstrate their thinking processes.


Alternatively, what if this was in first-person POV? You would replace "you [verb]" with "I [verb]". In this case, like in the second-person POV, you don't know what other people are thinking, but you (as the reader) would receive the direct thought process of Rob, since the narrator is Rob.

It's very similar in principle to second-person POV, except in the first-person POV, you aren't like an outsider observing Rob and talking for him, interpreting his thoughts fairly accurately, but you are practically "in his shoes".


Second-person POV can be very hard to pull off, and pull off well.

The second-person POV in this chapter puts us (the readers) into the mind of Rob and asks us to try to figure out how Rob feels through a demonstration of his personal responses. When that happens, we should start to question why his personal responses were like that, such as his personal upbringing.

Here, you don't know what other people are thinking, just Rob. It's like you're observing Rob and only Rob. It's as if you are having an "out of body experience" (hence the title), understanding Rob while not actually being Rob.

I find that it's as if you (the reader) were floating above Rob like a devil-on-the-shoulder, observing Rob's behavior with respect to everyone else's, and interpreting to Rob himself how he "should" feel. I think it gives the feeling that Rob is criticizing himself, and furthermore, that Rob feels that painful criticism throughout the chapter.

Diction is the word choice that the writer goes with to elicit a specific result. It tends to establish a mood for a piece of writing.

Syntax is the structure of the writing, and is like a social contract you have with other writers as to how you ought to write at that time.

An interesting example is an excerpt from Shakespeare's Sonnet 73:


In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.



Shakespeare chose very specific words. Let us pick out words or phrases that have to do with three of the identifiable themes:

  • near-end: twilight, sunset, black night, Death's second self, ashes, deathbed
  • disappearance/loss: fadeth, take away, expire, consumed
  • time/age: day, black night, youth, that [which it was nourished by]

Anything near an end can suggest some sort of death-like circumstance.

Disappearance or loss can suggest the imminent removal from this world.

The time or age words suggest a parallel of time with death-like circumstances and imminent removals, meaning that something about time would be the prevailing reason for worrying about such things.

Thus, we see that the diction Shakespeare had suggests an overarching theme of old age and gives a gloomy, dismal atmosphere/mood.


The syntax is obviously strange to modern readers. What about it is weird? Let's paraphrase the first four lines more into modern english, but keep the structure and meaning intact:

In me you see the moment when day turns into night
Just like after a sunset fades in the west,
Which night always snatches away,
Being just like a temporary form of death: sleep.

We should see that the speaker parallels his old age with the exact moment where day is almost night, and dreads a night in which he actually will die, because sleeping is really a way for you to temporarily lose consciousness.

In this form, we really feel the emphasis on the speaker's feelings, and not as much on what's happening around him. What's happening around him is ultimately being compared back to his feelings of dread.

We can paraphrase this again without retaining the syntax or line order, but still retaining the main point:

Just like how sunsets fade, night comes, and people sleep, I feel like I am on the brink of death.

This last paraphrase still conveys the same message, but in a clear, modern manner.

However, I believe the interesting undertones are lost; night time and sleep were more aggressive in the original wording (taking away the sunset, sealing up all in rest? That's intense action right there), but now, they are more passive.

Now, they are reduced to mere moments in time, and the connection with death is a bit less clear. The close of day is typically held as normal, right? So why is it being related to death? It doesn't make as much sense now, does it?

Night time and sleep, with the original syntax, felt more like threats to the speaker's old age, and puts focus on the speaker's fear of dying in his sleep.

Overall, you should see that the combination of specific diction and particular syntax emphasizes certain things over others, and can really change the way a piece of writing is perceived, and what in the writing feels like the central focus.

Diction in writing is the word choice used in a piece of writing. It can elicit a particular tone to the writing, depending on the specific words chosen.

If we take poetry as a medium, the tone is the attitude conveyed within the poem to the reader, either by the poem or implied by the poet. Sometimes, they may be two contrasting tones.

Tone can establish a mood, and can reveal an attitude.


For a more specific example, let us take an excerpt from Robert Browning's Porphyria's Lover, a poem where a guy kills his female lover to 'preserve' their love:

#color(white)(aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa)# (Line)
That moment she was mine, mine, fair,
#" "#Perfectly pure and good: I found
A think to do, and all her hair
#" "#in one long yellow string I wound
#" "#Three times her little throat around, (40)
And strangled her. No pain felt she;
#" "#I am quite sure she felt no pain.
As a shut bud that holds a bee,
#" "#I warily oped her lids: again
#" "#Laughed the blue eyes without a stain. (45)
And I untightened next the tress
#" "#About her neck; her cheek once more
Blushed bright beneath my burning kiss:
#" "#I propped her head up as before,
#" "#Only, this time my shoulder bore (50)
Her head, which droops upon it still:
#" "#The smiling rosy little head,
So glad it has its utmost will,
#" "#That all it scorned at once is fled,
#" "#And I, its love, am gained instead! (55)
Porphyria's love: she guessed not how
#" "#Her darling one wish would be heard.
And thus we sit together now,
#" "#And all night long we have not stirred,
#" "#And yet God has not said a word! (60)


If we analyze this for diction, we can categorize some terms under certain themes:

  • Murder: strangled, pain
  • Love/Loveliness: mine, fair, pure, good, kiss, rosy, love, wish
  • Morality: pain, warily, God

and there are others if you keep looking.

These terms can reveal a pattern in the speaker's thought process---the creepy speaker aims for his goal of love through murder, and had some conscience when it comes to morality, but who knows where it went?

Using diction like that makes the speaker's personality more advanced. "Tress", "burning kiss", "oped" and so on, illustrate more than a mere "I love you".


If you read this a few times, you should eventually notice that:

  1. The speaker has killed his female loved one by strangling her.
  2. He did so because he loved her.
  3. His idea of love is likely related to eternal beauty, as now he can admire his loved one while she 'forever sleeps' (is dead).
  4. He may have been defying God, or perhaps expecting punishment from God but not getting any. Either way, the idea of God's punishment is significant.

You could tell that (2) has some paradoxical meaning to it, which implies that there was probably a mental conflict within the speaker's head with regards to the murder.

Because of line 60, we might imply that God played a role in the speaker's mental conflict---there is a good chance that the speaker had at least considered that he would be punished if he murdered the lover, but at the same time, wanted to murder her to try to preserve her beauty.

We can take this as a contrast between the speaker's tone and the poet's tone:

Although the speaker ultimately decides upon murder and carries it out, Browning perhaps included the wariness of the speaker's actions, as well as the realization that God didn't "[say] a word" (60), to impose his own message that discourages murdering your loved one.

In other words, for Porphyria's Lover, the poet's tone is quite opposite to the speaker's tone. Therefore, you have two different tones going on in the same poem.

Why didn't he just say "I love you"? Well, it wouldn't have a very nuanced tone if he just said that. In this form, we know more about the speaker, and potentially even the poet's view on the speaker's topic.

A compound direct object occurs when more than one noun, pronoun, or group of words acting as a noun receives the action of the same transitive verb.

For example, in the sentence

#"Mary"# #color(red)"saw"# #"the"# #stackrel(color(red)"D.O.")(bb"lion")# #"at the zoo."#

The only direct object is lion. However, if Mary sees more than one noun, we have a compound direct object, since the same verb is acting on multiple nouns.

#"Mary"# #color(red)"saw"# #"the"# #stackrel(color(red)"D.O.")(bb"lion")# #"and the"# #stackrel(color(red)"D.O.")(bb"seal")# #"at the zoo."#

Here, the nouns lion and seal make up the compound direct object.

Be careful! A sentence can still have two direct objects and not contain a compound direct object. When the two direct objects are acted on by different verbs, they are just direct objects. An example of a sentence with two direct objects but no compound direct objects is:

#"Mary"# #color(red)"saw"# #"the"# #stackrel(color(red)"D.O.")bb"lion"# #"and"# #color(blue)"loved"# #"the"# #stackrel(color(blue)"D.O.")bb"seal"# #"at the zoo."#

Here, the lion was seen, but the seal was loved.


It is countable.


Noodles can be referred to in both the singular form (the noodle) and the plural form (the noodles).

Examples in the singular form, which is less common:

  • After eating one more noodle, I felt full.
  • I split the dry noodle into two before putting it in the pot.
  • The noodle fell off my plate.
  • The dogs in "Lady and the Tramp" kissed thanks to a single noodle.

Examples in the plural form:

  • I like my spaghetti noodles on the harder side.
  • I made instant noodles as a snack last night.
  • Noodles are typically made of wheat.
  • Which do you prefer: noodles or rice?


Is formed by adding an apostrophe and an s or just an apostrophe after an s to a noun in a plural form.


First Rule: First, we have to make the noun plural before we could show the plural possession in a noun. Then use the apostrophe after the s if the plural form calls for an s .

one baby, two babies, two babies' diapers

one dog, two dogs, two dogs' shampoo

one fox, two foxes, two foxes' lairs

Second Rule: If the plural form changes the noun that doesn't end with an s , then add an apostrophe and an s .

one man, five men, five men's watches

one sister-in-law, three sisters-in-law, three sisters-in-law's gifts

one child, two children, two children's bicycles

one cactus, two cacti, two cacti's leaves

Third Rule: If the plural form of the noun is the same as the singular form, add an apostrophe and an s just like with the singular form.

one fish, two fish, two fish's adventure

one sheep, two sheep, three sheep's wool

Fourth Rule: For the proper noun, follow the same rule as to the common noun.

Singular : Mr. Williams bought a puppy.
Singular Possessive : Mr. Williams's puppy barked at the kids.

Plural : The Williamses traveled to Europe for a week.
Plural Possessive : Their neighbor, Mrs. Adam, took care of the Williamses' puppy.

Singular: Mrs. Adam cooked dinner for her son.
Singular Possessive : Mrs. Adam's stew is a winner.

Plural: The Adams bought a new house.
Plural Possessive : I attended on the Adams' house blessing.

Source: Modules from my online grammar class. :)

What is a direct object?

8.027397260273972 years ago


The direct object would be the student.


First you need to know what an object is. Let's look for one in a sentence. For example - "Suzy hits the ball."

Let us remember that:
subject --> doer of the action
object --> receiver of the action

Since Suzy is the doer of the action, therefore, she is the subject.
Since the ball is the receiver of the action, then it is the object. Why? Since the ball is being hit. It receives the action that Suzy has done.

There are two types of objects:
direct and indirect

Answering your question, a direct object answers the question "what" or "whom."
Let's use the same example. Suzy hits the ball.
In this sentence, the ball is the direct object. (What did Suzy hit? The ball.)

Let's use your given example.
Mrs. Johnson calls the student to the office.
The student is the direct object. (Whom did Mrs. Johnson call? The student.)

On the contrary, an indirect object answers "to whom" or "to what."
e.g. She sent her mother a postcard from Italy.
Her mother is the indirect object. (To whom did she send her postcard? Her mother.)

Hope this helped!