Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Anthem Grammar Appalling

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“True patriot love in all thy sons command.” By all means, let’s change the words to “in all of us,” but maybe we could fix the grammar in the process. No-one seems concerned but, dammit, the line, even now, should read “commands.” It is patriot love that is commanded, not the sons who command or the sons’ command. It may not sound quite so mellifluous to say, “in all thy sons commands,” but changed to “in all of us commands,” it sounds even better than the present syntactically-challenged doggerel.


The Foundation for Public Poetry held a contest in January of this year to rewrite the line "True patriot love in all thy sons command." To read some background on the issue and the line selected from all entries, go to:
To your surprise, " olive us command" was not selected.

I agree that the line is awkward, but I think it's an inversion of "Command true patriotic love in all thy sons." As the "O!" suggests, this part of the anthem is a direct address to "Canada" and the verb is an imperative. So it's telling Canada to "command," rather than having the verb agree with "love" or "home and native land."
Yours for the John Grammarians society
John Oughton

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John Moss

John Moss's latest book is Grave Doubts (Dundurn Press). His website is

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