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Thread: the near

  1. #1
    unpakwon is offline Senior Member
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    the near

    How should I interpret "the near" in the following?

    There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
    And the task we must do is the near.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
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    Re: the near

    Those two lines don't make a lot of sense. Where did you find them?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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    unpakwon is offline Senior Member
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    Re: the near

    It's from a poem by Douglas Malloch. Here's some more.

    If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
    And some highway happier make;
    ......

    We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
    There's something for all of us here.
    There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
    And the task we must do is the near.

    If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,
    ..........

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: the near

    Quote Originally Posted by unpakwon View Post
    It's from a poem by Douglas Malloch. Here's some more.

    If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
    And some highway happier make;
    ......

    We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
    There's something for all of us here.
    There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
    And the task we must do is the near.

    If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,
    ..........
    It's frequently the case that words are moved around to fit the rhythm of a poem. The two lines you quoted basically mean: We have some big jobs to do and also some jobs which are smaller (lesser), and there is also a task which must be done and that must be done soonest. I don't think "the near" here means that the job has to be done somewhere nearby.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Re: the near

    Quote Originally Posted by unpakwon View Post
    It's from a poem by Douglas Malloch. Here's some more.

    If you can't be a bush, be a bit of the grass,
    And some highway happier make;
    ......

    We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew,
    There's something for all of us here.
    There's big work to do and there's lesser to do
    And the task we must do is the near.

    If you can't be a highway, then just be a trail,
    ..........
    Poetry doesn't always follow the rules of English. Think of poetry as a very condensed version of the language - more is said in less words. Malloch, the American poet, was pointing out here that the job we have to do is that job that is next (or near) to you. The torn up tracks of a railroad have to be rebuilt for the train to run, and this is a big job. Before the tracks can be rebuilt the workers have to be called in to work. While calling the workers is not a big job, it may be the job that is nearest to a person. So, some can manage the entire task of rebuilding the tracks (the big job) and some have to do the more mundane job of getting the workers in place (the lesser).

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