Interested in Language
The ninth stanza of Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard reads:
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th'inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
"Poetic licence"notwithstanding, shouldn't the verb form in the first sentence be plural, i.e. "Await" rather than "Awaits"?
I'm not trying to "set aside poetic licence".
I'm suggesting that, unless we can defend it on some aesthetic or figurative grounds, i.e. show what the poetic purpose is, the choice of "Awaits" is a simple grammatical error. So, why do you think Gray chose "Awaits"?
Well, I have two possible answers to that question. The first is grab yourself a time machine and ask him! The second is that I find it very unlikely that the poet himself made a "simple grammatical error". There is a chance that a typo might have been made when it was being copied but if every copy of the poem uses the same word, then it's the word that Gray used. I think we can safely say he used it on purpose but unless you have the aforementioned time machine, you'll never know why.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
The best I can suggest is ellipsis. After he's listed the foolish pretensions of the rich and famous and beautiful, Gray wants us to mentally insert the words "each one" (or something similar), which then allows the singular verb form.
The trouble for me is that I automatically twitch when subject and verb disagree. Pitiful really.
I'm afraid that the conjunctive is what ensures plurality. Would you say "The horse , the pig. the sheep, and the cow is a farm animal"?
I think you want a conclusive answer to your original question when there is none, renbri.
No, I'd say "The horse, the pig, the sheep and the cow are farm animals.", which is precisely my point.