In the song, Close to the Edge by Yes (click link to see lyrics), there is a line that I don't understand how to parse grammatically to make sense of it:

  • "And assessing points to nowhere, leading every single one"

I'm not looking for an interpretation, but rather, the ways in which it could be grammatically parsed, even if such a parsing may be abstract or senseless.

For example, in the classic sentence, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" there is no sensible interpretation, but we can ascribe a grammatical parsing "Pronoun pronoun noun verb adverb" and we can get a sense that ideas, which are both colorless and green, sleep in a furious way.

There are probably a few ways that the above phrase from the Yes song can be parsed, but it's probably limited to a small handful. It might require some back reference to a prior line, especially the first line. Again, the full lyrics can be found here.

In other words, what are the possible/probable syntax trees related to this phrase? (But I need a beginner's explanation.) I'm just totally lost on it, and that prevents me from even getting to "step 2" of considering any kind of interpretation, which is beyond the scope of this question.

  • 1
    "points" is probably a verb. [Taking an assessment [of something unnamed] ] points to [ nothing ]. ...That said, I am a native speaker, and that entire verse makes 0 (zero) sense. You don't need help with the English - you need to talk to the songwriter.
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 18:41
  • 1
    Also fill I happened to disagree with @Adam when I looked at the phrase, because I interpreted point to be a noun. So you see two native speakers are disagreeing over the meaning of just one word.
    – user6951
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 20:30
  • 1
    +1 to reopen. I have updated the question to that which I think is the essence of what the OP was asking, and to which I think there is a fact based answer. @CarSmack Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 14:24
  • 1
    I voted to reopen after reading over the context. I do think there are some objective things that can be said, e.g. if "every single one" refers to points, then points can't be a verb.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 14:48
  • 1
    @ColleenV That's one way to parse it. There are others as well. That's my point. List the various ways to parse it. Let the OP (or anyone else) think of possible interpretations (including abstract or nonsensical) on their own based on the various possible ways to parse it. Commented Dec 28, 2014 at 16:38

1 Answer 1

A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace
And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace
And achieve it all with music that came quickly from afar
And taste the fruit of man recorded losing all against the hour
And assessing points to nowhere, leading every single one

I'm not familiar with this artist or the history of this song, so the following could be wrong or inaccurate.

You're probably wondering in the last line if assessing is the verb, making the last line a dependent clause of the first line, or if points is the verb, making the last line able to stand out on its own as a sentence.

It's entirely possible the ambiguity is intentional, since this is a work of art and the lyrics, in my opinion, have a dissociative tone to them.

I'm led to believe points is a plural noun and not a verb because leading every single one makes sense as a modifier or qualification of what points are. Modifiers are generally close to the words they modify in English.

If points is the verb, then leading every single one would, from how I see it, link all the way back to depths of your disgrace. You don't really "lead" depths - you're at the bottom of them if you are falling from somewhere - unless you're climbing out of them (which may be implied by call, however ...)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .