Sunday, October 12, 2014

The hyphen

The hyphen is a simple dash;
The eye flicks by it in a flash.
When should I use it, and if not,
What choice have I? It's all I've got.

Unlike full stops, or the comma,
Hyphens provide little drama,
And seeing one, once I edit,
It may look wrong, when I've read it.

Sometimes its use relies on choice,
Dependent on the writer's voice;
Or poorly-placed, may obfuscate
A meaning that I want to state.

An editor, with fixations
Over proper punctuations,
May make decisions arbitrary,
In hyphening vocabulary.

Take the arcane dieresis;
Its ubiquity decreases,
Yet The New Yorker's iron style
Demands it from its rank and file.

With care, the hyphen has been used
To clarify, when not abused.
Consistency will shape the work;
That principle one mustn't shirk.

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