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.
- Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
- Furiously sleep ideas green colorless."
for Noam Chomsky
Curiously deep, the slumber of crimson thoughts:
While breathless, in stodgy viridian,
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
From The Night Mirror by
Copyright © 1971 by John Hollander. Reprinted by permission of
Atheneum Publishers and the author in
On Noam Chomsky
(New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1974).
YOU, NOAM CHOMSKY
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.)
- Sister Mary Jonathan, O.P.
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