At the excellent Futility Closet I learn of a nineteenth-century fellow who wrote a sermon entirely in words of one syllable:
He who wrote the Psalm in which our text is found, had great cause to both bless and praise God; for he had been brought from a low state to be a great king in a great land; had been made wise to rule the land in the fear and truth of God; and all his foes were, at the time he wrote, at peace with him. Though he had been poor, he was now rich in this world’s goods; though his youth had been spent in the care of sheep, he now wore a crown; and though it had been his lot for a long time to hear the din of war and strife, peace now dwelt round the throne, and the land had rest.
That’s quite good, is it not? See also William Barnes’s book of speech-craft.
And: this stanza from one of the greatest of Auden’s poems, “The Shield of Achilles”:
The mass and majesty of this world, all
That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
And could not hope for help and no help came:
What their foes like to do was done, their shame
Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
And died as men before their bodies died.
Sixty-three words: one of three syllables, four of two syllables, all the others of one syllable each (including thirty-seven of them in a row). The words trudge at the pace of a terrible dirge.