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Ellipsis

In poetry, the omission of words whose absence does not impede the reader’s ability to understand the expression. For example, Shakespeare makes frequent use of the phrase “I will away” in his plays, with the missing verb understood to be “go.” T.S. Eliot employs ellipsis in the following passage from “Preludes”:

              You curled the papers from your hair,
              Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
              In the palms of both soiled hands. 

The possessive “your” is left out in the second and third lines, but it can be assumed that the woman addressed by the speaker is clasping the soles of her own feet with her own hands.

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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