Damn you, Dryden!

John McIntyre has just posted a piece on his Baltimore Sun blog that ends with with a footnote:

A friend on Facebook apologized today for a sentence ending in a preposition. Damn you, John Dryden, I can forgive almost anything for the author of “Mac Flecknoe” and those lovely translations of Virgil’s Georgics, but I wish to God you had kept your mouth shut about stranded prepositions in English.

Amen to that. Dryden is the sad source of years of utterly unnecessary grammatical unhappiness.

My most recent words on the subject:

Stranded P. Language Log and this blog have taken on this subject repeatedly (there’s an inventory of postings through mid-2009 here, and there have been more since then). There’s really not a lot to be said on the usage advice, which is crap: stranded Ps have been entirely acceptable in English from the beginning; the proscription against them was spread by John Dryden and somehow found its way into school grammars, where it festers; meanwhile, no reputable authority recommends against them, and they’re on everybody’s list of “rules that aren’t rules”.

But like John, I have many good things to say about Dryden’s poetry. To John’s list, I would add two poems to St. Cecilia, the Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day and Alexander’s Feast, both of them wonderfully set to music by Handel. I’m listening to the Ode right now.


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