Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously

Last Update: 13 September 2007

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"Sentences (1) and (2) are equally nonsensical, but any speaker of English will recognize that only the former is grammatical.


for Noam Chomsky

Curiously deep, the slumber of crimson thoughts:
While breathless, in stodgy viridian,
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.


Colorless green ideas sleep furiously
in the fan-shaped eyes, that welcomed
only the color of the relevant world,
wearing a face of man,

their green (in violent sleep, the nightmare
day) draining to white or vagueness
in a stretch of fear.

Address yourself, Ideas, to sleep.
Furiously sleep, Ideas, green, colorless,
involved in green, careless of responsibility.

Let all fury, entangled with your grammar,
be a colorless green.

(Sister Jonathan teaches senior English at Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.)

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