January 1

About these weird poems

(Or poem-like language artifacts.) The last couple of posts were built out of anagrams, every line an anagram of the title. It’s a fun challenge I fell short of, insofar as the results resemble mad ravings more than Homer.

I’d start with a phrase, like “Two thousand eleven A.D.”, and feed it to my generator. It emits a zillion anagrams sorted by naturalness — that is, by the cross entropy according to a bigram model of English (ordering the words within each anagram to minimize that score). The raw anagram generation is standard; the part applying the language model, I haven’t heard of anyone doing, though it can’t be a new idea; presumably the commercial anagram programs work the same vein. (I haven’t tried any.)

This reordering of the words and the lines helps a lot. I load it all into Emacs and scan the first pages, clipping any lines that look interesting. Some words may catch my eye in unsuitable anagrams, and I’ll search for them further. After a dozen or two clippings there’ll be a couple that want to go together — until it’s like a ridiculous crossword puzzle tantalizing with no solution, unless you’ll indulge a vague frantic wave in the general direction of a meaning. Or unless you have wordskill and fancier tools: focusing on the best few pages by the cross entropy still leaves the vast majority of interesting lines buried in the babble. I’d like to hear from serious anagrammatists how they do it.

So, I mentioned a subject for today. How’d it come out?

Two Thousand Eleven A.D.

Was haunted love noted?
A-wounded, let’s not have
A new love that sounded
As heaven would tend to —
To have owned and let us.

And those we don’t value,
As heaven would tend to:
None would have tasted
On haunted love, wasted
Soul want to have ended —

Would have to set an end,
As even death would not:
And thus we do not leave.

Hey, it scanned! Try again?

Two Thousand Eleven

We have not done lust.
We hadn’t even soul to
Let us down to heaven:
We have untold notes.

We don’t have one lust,
Slow even unto death.
Not even a whole stud
Owned us to the navel.

Do not value the news.
Don’t love the new USA.
Shut down. Leave note.

I don’t plan to write any more of these, hurray.