Notes about poetry

August 14, 2011 permalink

Logically boring

From Lewis Carroll’s Symbolic Logic, which aimed to make logic understandable via quirky syllogisms and illustrated tables:

  1. No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste;
  2. No modern poetry is free from affectation;
  3. All your poems are on the subject of soap-bubbles;
  4. No affected poetry is popular among people of real taste;
  5. No ancient poem is on the subject of soap-bubbles.

Conclusion: all your poems are uninteresting.

December 5, 2010 permalink

The Metrics of Rap

Language Log drops the science on the metrics of rap and hiphop, as part of a larger article on Yale University’s recently-published, transcription-error-prone The Anthology of Rap. The above image illustrates the meter of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s SuperRappin’.

As always in such cases, there’s an interesting question whether this should be thought of as a superficial deviation from an underlyingly square rhythm, or rather as a different draw from a set of available polyrhythmic patterns. For some more discussion, see e.g. “Rock syncopation: Stress shifts or polyrhythms?”, 11/26/2007. Note in any case that the mixture of four-beat and three-beat (lyric) lines evokes the traditional English ballad meter, whatever we’re to make of the variations in alignment.

September 19, 2009 permalink

Heres a Toast to Alan Turing Born in Harsher

here’s a toast to Alan Turing
born in harsher, darker times
who thought outside the container
and loved outside the lines
and so the code-breaker was broken
and we’re sorry
yes now the s-word has been spoken
the official conscience woken
– very carefully scripted but at least it’s not encrypted –
and the story does suggest
a part 2 to the Turing Test:
1. can machines behave like humans?
2. can we?

May 2, 2009 permalink

Have You Forgotten What We Were Like then when We

Have you forgotten what we were like then
when we were still first rate
and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

it’s no use worrying about Time
but we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
and turned some sharp corners

the whole pasture looked like our meal
we didn’t need speedometers
we could manage cocktails out of ice and water

I wouldn’t want to be faster
or greener than now if you were with me O you
were the best of all my days

Animals (1950), from The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara.