An editor’s lament (with apologies to Robert Frost)

The classic poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ gets the red-pen treatment.


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With miles to go before we sleep, those of us who correct, revise, sculpt and—sometimes—translate others’ writing sometimes get a bit frosty about our lot in professional life.

We have no one to blame but ourselves; we have chosen the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

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Here, then, is my take on Robert Frost’s classic poem about solitude and a journey that seems never quite completed:

Cropping Some Words on a Frosty Morning

Whose prose this is, I think I know.
His text first vexed me long ago.
He will not note the tweaks I make,
Nor benefit from what I know.

His syntax is a huge mistake,
I realize as I undertake
To make this muddle crisp and clear
And his bad habits hope to shake.

Lord, how I wish that he were here
To see the way that I adhere
To grammar rules and AP style
But he will never learn, I fear.

My office mates just give a smile
As him I vocally revile
And curse him out with gall and bile
And curse him out with gall and bile.

@word_czar

This article originally appeared on Ragan in 2015.

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