Kelly Cherry in The Smart Set:

SYNTAX_CHERRY_FI_001We have all either read or heard about a book titled The Joy of Sex,unless the book is now too old to interest today’s young people, who seem to have preferred to discover the joy of sex firsthand rather than in print. The trouble with relying on sex as a source of joy is that it does not last long. Sex may be fun, but afterwards it can turn cold. Getting out of a bad situation can be a bleak way to start the day — or the middle of the night. Even spectacular sex diminishes in retrospect. The French have a well-known phrase: la petite mort, or the little death. After the climax, the comedown. After the high, the down-low. After love, boredom. Are you ready to do it again? Maybe yes, if you’re 19 or 20. Older than that and you’ll be getting up to wash the dishes.


But there is another kind of joy that will stay with you through all your days and nights, through marriage, separation, and divorce. It never turns cold. It is the joy of syntax, and you definitely want to enjoy it.

Syntax, defined by Merriam Webster: (a) the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses); (b) the part of grammar dealing with this, and (c) a connected or orderly system: harmonious arrangement of parts or elements.

Syntax is the arrangement of words, with particular attention to harmony. It is about word order.

The dictionary offers a simpler definition for students: the way in which words are put together to form phrases, clauses, or sentences.

It is about how you write your sentences, but it is also about what you write in your sentences, because harmony is the achievement of a suitable tessitura. Look up tessitura. Tessitura is the range of territory you can cover without lapsing into language that does not fit.

More here.