Fall 2009


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A Superlative Poem

Submitted by Christopher V. Trinacty (inactive) on Thursday, 11/12/2009, at 3:52 PM


A Superlative Poem

by Christopher Spaide


Six adjectives that end in -lis

are adjectival specialists.

In the superlative degree

(best suited for hyperbole)

they end in a linguistic twist—

not tricky as in spades or whist,

but tricky as in, “Huh, that’s weird,

the normal ending’s disappeared.

The stem is there; the stern’s transformed,

irregularly uniformed.

Our -issimus, -a, -um’s become

this new thing called -limus, -a, -um.”

These words, such as, like, similis

but not unlike dissimilis,

include, easily, facilis,

but just hardly difficilis.

Then, simply put, comes gracilis;

last but not least is humilis,

which, modestly, is listed last,

in line with its most humble past.

But note: these six each end with -is.

A question one might raise is this:

How is the neuter form engendered?

(or as the case may be, ungendered)

A Latinist would quickly say

the nominative ends in -e

(which sounds as “ay,” confusingly,

a sound we might expect to see

not at the end, but at the start:

Cf. the alphabet.) Apart

from this sextet, there are no others,

no pseudo-morphologic brothers.

Those few that terminate in -elis

are nice, but do not make the A-list.

This aspiration we’ll forgive—

we can’t all be superlative.