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> Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
> The muttering retreats
> Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
> And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
> Streets that follow like a tedious argument
> Of insidious intent
> To lead you to an overwhelming question...
> Is it the "streets" or the "tedious argument of insidious intent" that
> "lead you to an overwhelming question"?
I'd say the streets. Read separately, 'an argument of insidious intent to
lead you to an overwhelming question' doesn't sound very natural. I guess
one would speak of 'an argument that leads' rather than 'an argument to
There is a third possibility: 'to lead' specifies 'intent'. But 'intent' is
indefinite ('of insidious intent' - no definite article). In order to be
specified by an infinitive clause ('to lead...'), it should normally be
definite ('the intent to lead...').
I personally like the idea that the streets follow (in order) to lead to an
overwhelming question. It's not just the grammar, it's also the way the
sentence then collapses the distinction between the material ('the streets
lead...') and the abstract ('to a question').
> For the grammarians and poetry analysts (not mutually exclusive, of
> on the list:
Of course the terms are not exclusive - though most analysts are now too
busy with other things to pay close attention to grammar. So keep those
questions coming, please: I hadn't had so much fun since my 2nd-year grammar
PS: where's everyone been these last few days?
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