Elements of Eloquence Single Line Challenge, Chapter 10: Periodic Sentence
This one’s long, so let’s go temporarily back to a single-chapter format.
The periodic sentence is a long sentence, in which the main verb is postponed until the very end. Phrasally, it has a certain rhythm. It is not the same thing as a run-on. Rhetorically, it charges the reader’s interest, unless it loses his attention. It’s rather formal, by necessity.
The most famous example is Rudyard Kipling’s poem “IF.”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
Can you do it? Pop your line into the comment section, and on we charge!
Up from his bed; up through the 9 feet of stale air hovering over it; up through his bedroom ceiling with a crash of plaster and rotted timber; up the attic ladder with a scramble that could hardly keep up with momentum; up through the skylight with a curse at the glaring sun; and up at last onto the slippery slate roof; in no more than 12 seconds flat and propelled by pure startlement, the singed and gibbering President of Harvard shot.
“Gee, Pop!” said his awed and admiring son, two stories beneath and staring up through the hole and the skylight. “Gee! I did’n know you could move so fast. Guess I helped you get your exercise for the day, did’n I? No, can’t stay… gotta run… the fellas are waiting at the Boathouse. Can’t hear you from down here, Pop, sorry!”