If you use an old expression like "by a many", do you need to make it consistent and use old expressions throughout the poem, or is it ok to just use it in one verse or sentence?

“The spring is coming by a many signs.”

I was wondering if we can for example use an old archaic expression one time and then never use any archaic word or expression. I am pretty sure the answer is different depending on whether you're writing a poem or novel.


1 Answer 1


Regardless of what you're writing, if you use an archaic form readers will notice, and if you use an archaic form only once and not everywhere it applies, readers will notice that too. If you're doing it for effect, you've achieved your goal. This is sometimes the case in poetry. On the other hand, if you're doing it because that one phrase sounds neat but you don't want to dive in to archaic forms more broadly, readers will wonder why you made the decisions you did.

It might be that one character talks this way (perhaps it's an affectation). In that case readers will (rightly) tie the usage to the character. If a character, including the narrator, is inconsistent, however, that's likely to stand out in a not-so-good way.

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