?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Your poetry is broken, please fix it - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
j4
j4
Your poetry is broken, please fix it
A bug appeared in our tracking database the other day:

Title: Poem text is jumbled.
Description: Peter Reading's "And Now, a Quick Look at the Morning Papers".

Here's the full text of the (actually rather good) poem in question:

1 lled in
2 ar smas
3 e freed b
4 iremen from the wreckage of his Ren
5 fter both had been in collision wit
6 hrysler Avenger. The A49 was blocke
7 en to cut both drivers from their v
8 dition of the other driver as 'sati
9 rsday---the day after his fiftiet
10 or alcohol proved positive, a p
11 juries to his head and left l
12 mproving' said a hospital o
13 lso certified dead was Do
14 eaves a wife and two chi
15 aid 'He just drove ou
16 othing I could do.'
17 Parochial Church
18 early retire
19 any year
20 fini
21 ha

I spent the next 10 minutes alternating between re-reading the poem and trying to think of a tactful way of saying "It's meant to look like that, you philistine."

Future bugs expected include "Poem entitled 'Sonnet' has extra line"; "'Four Quartets' is missing 8 violins, 4 violas and 4 cellos" ...

Amused me, anyway, so I thought I'd post something amusing to counterbalance the previous miserable entry. Although, of course, the "amusing" post contains a more serious poem... does the comedy frame the tragedy, or vice versa? Half empty. Half full. Half past six, and time to go home.
Read 18 | Write
Comments
From: kaet Date: March 12th, 2003 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)

ar smas
...
the day after his fiftiet


Eek. Spooky. At least you'll not read this comment till tomorrow, otherwise I'd not post it.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 12th, 2003 11:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I spent the next 10 minutes alternating between re-reading the poem and trying to think of a tactful way of saying "It's meant to look like that, you philistine."

I believe you, but I think I'll stick with Milton; it may be encroaching fogeydom, but I have limited patience for structures that depart so far from metre as I understand it, and people are actually doing stuff today with traditional form that have far greater impact for me. [ For example this. ]
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 12th, 2003 11:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, that poem lured me to reread it and I had forgotten just how intensely that breaks me up.

Does the comedy frame the tragedy, or vice versa? Half empty. Half full.

Half-dressed ? Half-naked ? As with the more commonly expressed question concerning angels and pins, it depends on the tune.

"What is life but an improvisation to the music ?"
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Half-dressed ? Half-naked ?

Ooh, if you insist. ... No, wait.

As with the more commonly expressed question concerning angels and pins, it depends on the tune.

"...you might just as well ask how many demons can dance on the head of a pin. They're of the same original stock, after all. And at least they dance. [Footnote: Although it's not what you and I would call dancing. Not good dancing anyway. A demon moves like a white band on "Soul Train."]"
--Pratchett/Gaiman, Good Omens


"What is life but an improvisation to the music ?"

"Sometimes in life you've got to dance like nobody's watching."
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 13th, 2003 08:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Half-dressed ? Half-naked ?

Ooh, if you insist. ... No, wait.


Insisting isn't me, but I can certainly encourage. Particularly in the cause of backrubs.

As with the more commonly expressed question concerning angels and pins, it depends on the tune.

"...you might just as well ask how many demons can dance on the head of a pin. They're of the same original stock, after all. And at least they dance. [Footnote: Although it's not what you and I would call dancing. Not good dancing anyway. A demon moves like a white band on "Soul Train."]"
--Pratchett/Gaiman, Good Omens


See A Quantum Gravity Treatment of the Angel Density Problem, I think.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 02:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I believe you, but I think I'll stick with Milton

To each, as they say, his own. :) I confess that the end of Paradise Lost made me cry (Spoiler: Turl trg puhpxrq bhg bs gur tneqra ng gur raq) but the cynic in me says some of that was just relief at finishing it...

[110 stories]

That, on the other hand, is awesome. I think I need to go away and read it somewhere quiet.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: March 13th, 2003 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Hadn't seen that before. Bookmarked for later intensive reading, but first glance made me cry (oh it's all these hormones...).
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 13th, 2003 08:31 am (UTC) (Link)
I believe you, but I think I'll stick with Milton

To each, as they say, his own. :)


And from each according to his abilities ?

I confess that the end of Paradise Lost made me cry (Spoiler: Turl trg puhpxrq bhg bs gur tneqra ng gur raq) but the cynic in me says some of that was just relief at finishing it...

I salute you; there are few who would think to spoiler-protect "Paradise Lost".

[110 Stories]
That, on the other hand, is awesome.

Ford is utterly awesome; that poem was what made me able to grieve for the fall of the towers, for which alone I am eternally grateful to him. There is lots more awesome poetry of his which.. is sort of stumbling awkwardly towards redistribution, will let you know if I hear more about it.

If you're not familiar with his novels, I really emphatically recommend The Dragon Waiting, which has recently had a Millennium Masterworks edition in the UK. Particularly if you like the Medicis, cool vampires, th Byzantine Empire, or Richard III.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
> > To each, as they say, his own.
> And from each according to his abilities ?

Something like that. "Be conservative in what you generate, and predictable in what you sig-quote." :)

I salute you; there are few who would think to spoiler-protect "Paradise Lost".

<g> It had to be done, really...

Ford is utterly awesome; that poem was what made me able to grieve for the fall of the towers, for which alone I am eternally grateful to him.

Reading that poem made me think I might have be able to feel something about That Event, something other than a sense of obligation to express feelings I don't share. I'm not sure if gratitude is the right response to being made to grieve for strangers, though. To me, grief is ... well, personal. To feel grief for people I don't know seems like somehow fictionalising them; I can't feel for them as the real people they are/were, but I can make them into characters I can empathise with. I'm not sure that's a net gain.

Anyway, I said my piece at the time, about how I felt then, and I found (unsurprisingly) that very few people shared my views. ... I'm not sure going over it all again at this distance from it will help anything.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: March 13th, 2003 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I think part of why that poem resounds quite so strongly for me is that one or two of the individual stories referred to are ones I know; "the air's deciduous of letterhead" is I think a reference to Teresa Nielsen Hayden, at home way up the other end of the island, snatching a burning page out of the air and finding it to be from Jack Higgins' A Season in Hell. I have a few close friends and several acquaintances in New York, and a lot of the immediate impact of that day was people one by one checking in on the groups where I knew them to confirm they were all right.

I try not to talk about this much; partly because I got leaped all over for having the initial reaction "Twenty-five years of the Troubles in one morning", and partly because I get worked up about people comparing Boy George's little campaign to WWII; this is not WWII. This is one more step in the theft of the future we were unexpectedly graced with in 1989, and I resent the hell out of it. [ How old were you in 1989 ? The Berlin Wall coming down and suddenly realising that we didn't all absolutely have to die in the Cold War version of WWIII was incredible, to me, but I've noticed a definite generation gap between me and people who do not remember having that absolute surety of no future there, and having that paradigm shift. ]
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: March 12th, 2003 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love it. What might be made of Prosepoem towards a definition of itself?
j4 From: j4 Date: March 13th, 2003 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Indeed... I'm also tempted to pre-emptively warn our QA department about e e cummings. :)
senji From: senji Date: March 13th, 2003 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)
That might be a good way of saying `It's supposed to be like that you philistines' without actually calling them philistines.
chrisvenus From: chrisvenus Date: March 13th, 2003 10:55 am (UTC) (Link)
OK. This is where I fall into the philistine camp I guess.

What the hell is that poem meant to be? I get the impression that it is random bits of things in a newspaper but I really don't get it. What is the point of using that structure? What message is it trying to get across?

As I re-read it is starts to make a bit more sense but I ahve to admit that on a single reading I would think something was screwed. Of course I would check this before submitting as a bug. :)

But yeah, what's with the structure, why does it start with some really short lines, get bigger and then reduce. I could understand if it started with long lines and got shorter... Oh well. Can you spare the time to give me a couple of paragraphs discussing the poem? If not then don't worry, I'm not overly bothered but I figured you'd like the chance to educate me further. :)
ewx From: ewx Date: March 14th, 2003 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
It's the text that you might see on a scrap of paper torn from a newspaper. Perhaps the destruction of the newspaper is supposed to mirror the death and destruction documented in the poem.
j4 From: j4 Date: March 14th, 2003 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)
What ewx said, basically.

I get the impression that it is random bits of things in a newspaper

Okay, I've filled in what the missing bits of words could be, in some places I'm guessing, but you get the gist of what the "article" would have said:

1 killed in
2 car smash ...
3 had to be freed by
4 firemen from the wreckage of his Renault
5 after both had been in collision with
6 a Chrysler Avenger. The A49 was blocked ...
7 took four men to cut both drivers from their vehicles ...
8 described the condition of the other driver as 'satisfactory
9 Thursday---the day after his fiftieth birthday
10 tests for alcohol proved positive, a police spokesman said ...
11 injuries to his head and left l...?
12 condition is improving' said a hospital official
13 also certified dead was Do... [name]
14 he leaves a wife and two children
15 the driver of the Chrysler Avenger said 'He just drove out in front of me
16 There was nothing I could do.'
17 ... active member of the Parochial Church</font>
18 about to takeearly retirement
19 ... many years
20 fini
21 ha

...

The lengths of the lines aren't really the point -- it's supposed to look like it's been ripped from a newspaper (the hint's in the title, "And now, a Quick Look at the Morning Papers") so that only a bit of the article remains. (This fragmentary story isn't so far from the way we actually read/hear news stories -- we skim over them before throwing the free paper away, or we hear them in the background on the radio while we're doing other things.)

I'm not sure the destruction of the newspaper is quite the word I'd choose -- to my mind it's more that newpapers end up getting torn and thrown away and forgotten, news stories get forgotten, just as the local man who dies in a car-crash (whose name we don't even know) is reduced to a fragment of a story, and it's a story so clichéd, so common, that we can even fill in the blanks around the sides of the torn-away words. He's died just after his 50th birthday, (possibly) just after taking early retirement, just at the beginning of a new start in his life, he's been a member of the local community, and all that's left of any of that are a few platitudes in a newspaper. And his wife and two chi[ldren], who are (as always) just out of the picture.

I'm sorry this isn't a very polished discussion of the poem, but it's the best I can do off the top of my head while I'm supposed to be working. ;)
chrisvenus From: chrisvenus Date: March 14th, 2003 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
The scrap of newspaper makes some kind of sense. My first glance at it (and the title was my guide here) was that it was somebody picking up a newspaper (complete) and glancing through. Having given it some thought I was thinking that the structure was there to represent the fact that he was skim reading it and that the lines were getting shorter as the reader cared less and less about the content as he skimmed through it. The idea being that somebody died and the person reading it just can't bring himself to care enough to even read the details. However, I wouldn't be able to tell you in that idea why the lines start off so short. :)

Anyway, thank you (and ewx) for taking the time to further my education. As I re-read it it is more and more interesting. Well, that is probably this years culture for me sadly enough. :)

Cheers

Chris
ewx From: ewx Date: March 14th, 2003 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm reminded of the local-paper report of a work colleague who died a few years ago, actually. Something the poem doesn't tell you is that the report is not only a rather transient memorial, but might even get some of the facts wrong.
Read 18 | Write