The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Wayne L. Tosh

Second Advisor

John R. Bovee

Third Advisor

Martin A. Kammermeier

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Poetic Syntax, Generative Grammar, literary explication, teaching English literature


Poetic syntax has always been of interest to teachers and scholars alike. Up to the present, however, there has been no workable or reliable means for such analysis, and those forms employed thus far have often left much to be desired in the areas of explanation and illustration. This study presents a new approach to syntactic analysis: generative transformation grammar. It presents basic procedures of generative grammar and applies them to two poems: "Not to Keep" by Robert Frost, and "this man's heart' by e.e. cummings. The results of this analysis illustrates stylistic characteristics unique to these authors and shows that generative grammar can be used as a means of syntactic analysis of poetry. Generative grammar is composed of a very rigorous system that allows for a greater degree of objectivity than was possible in the past and also has the advantage of a clearly pictured graphic representation which is ideal for classroom explanation as well as individual study. Taken together, these two advantages seem to make the case that generative analysis of poetic syntax offers more objectivity and more illustrative techniques than previously available.