Back in my too-long ago schooldays, I was taught English by an old grammarian. Let’s call him Charlie Broadwood – for that indeed was his name. He kept a tin of sweets in his desk drawer, and from time to time he would pop one in his mouth and suck it with every sign of satisfaction. If one of us in his class did something particularly meritorious he would call us out to partake of one of his “luscious sweetmeats”. But I digress. He taught that a sentence is a recognisable grammatical structure of words, containing a subject, a predicate, and a verb. If the verb, subject or predicate is implied, the sentence is an elliptical one. I know that Fowler accepts verbless sentences, and that some poets say that anything goes in writing nowadays, but I don’t think so.
I know I infuriate other poets in critical groups, or when I edit poems for publications, by asking, “Where’s the verb?” but the truth is, I can’t help it. To me, a sentence without a verb may be a wondrous descriptive subordinate clause or whatever, but it ain’t a sentence. I can happily eject adverbs (more than happily) or excessive adjectives (equally), but if there isn’t a ‘doing word’ in a sentence, it isn’t ‘doing’ anything; it just sits there.
We have a rich and almost infinitely flexible panoply of vocabulary, grammar, syntax and punctuation, and I use the lot, maybe because of Charlie Broadwood’s luscious sweetmeats. Those who would oversimplify our language would leave it a poor, depauperate and anorexic thing. I want to see those verbs. Now, go back and write it out again.