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,
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.