The KISS Grammar Workbooks Back to December Menu
(Code and Color Key)

From The Firmament of Time, by Loren Eiseley
N.Y. Atheneum, 1962. p. 162.
Analysis Key

     We crossed a wind (DO) [Adj. to "wind" that smelled {of ice} {from still 

higher snowfields}], | we cantered {with a breeze} [Adj. to "breeze" that came 

{from somewhere} {among cedars}], | we passed a gust (DO) {like Hell's breath}

[Adj. to "gust" that had risen straight up {from the desert floor}. |


    Although an "and" after the last comma (before "we passed") would have made this sentence "correct," Eiseley chose not to use one, thereby creating what many teachers would consider to be a comma-splice. It is, of course, impossible to know what was in Eiseley's mind as he wrote this, but as I read -- and then thought about it, the missing "and" suggests that the three main clauses are not cumulative ("and"), but rather appositional, as if the crossing, cantering, and passing are, in a sense, variations on the same basic idea.
     Technically, the splice causes readers no problems because of the structure of the three main clauses. They are relatively short; each begins with "we" as the main subject; and, although two have direct objects, and one has an object of a preposition, each main clause includes a simple adjectival clause that modifies the object. This parallel structure makes the sentence very easy to follow.