Sunday, October 18, 2009

From the Second Shelf

He bore a hell within him which none could extinguish.
Something imperfect and malformed, lodged in the heart of being,
Occupied his thoughts more than all else, like a hallucination,
The true nature of which was not clear to him or any interpreter.
Random mental commotions of this kind are a constant agitation,
Like great waves surging in a crashing sea,
Like a thousand stallions in full gallop in the heat of battle.
May he ruminate well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles life!
Be like waved lead that has cooled and set in the smelter’s mould
To leave no rubs nor botches in the work.
This do in order to gain a clear and just idea of design and purpose.

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http://readwritepoem.org/ - Writing Prompt#97 - We are supposed to take a short written work (poem, letter, etc.) and cut it into fragments, then choose random fragments to form a new poem. My inner rebel wouldn't let me do this exactly, but I was still inspired to create this poem relying somewhat upon chance. I selected a book from my shelf and chose a line or phrase from the first page I turned to, then proceeded to do the same with several other randomly chosen books. There are a few adjustments I had to make. Maybe you know a few of these lines. In the comments section, I posted the poem again with the works cited.

16 comments:

  1. From the Second Shelf (with citations)


    He bore a hell within him which none could extinguish.
    (Mary Shelley – Frankenstein)
    Something imperfect and malformed, lodged in the heart of being,
    (Cormac McCarthy – All the Pretty Horses)
    Occupied his thoughts more than all else, like a hallucination,
    (Hermann Hesse – Steppenwolf)
    The true nature of which was not clear to him or any interpreter.
    (Joseph Conrad – Victory)
    Random mental commotions of this kind are a constant agitation,
    (Joseph O’Neill – Netherland)
    Like great waves surging in a crashing sea,
    Like a thousand stallions in full gallop in the heat of battle.
    (Mao Tse-Tung – Poems)
    May he ruminate well upon the effects of anger, how it troubles life!
    (Francis Bacon – On Anger)
    Be like waved lead that has cooled and set in the smelter’s mould
    (Herman Melville - Benito Cereno)
    To leave no rubs nor botches in the work.
    (Shakespeare - Macbeth)
    This do in order to gain a clear and just idea of design and purpose,
    (Thomas Paine – Common Sense)

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  2. This is an interesting way to do it. I love how, despite all the lines being from different books, there seems to be a fairly clear theme of inner distress/violence.

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  3. These all fit together so well I didn't realise until I scrolled down that it was all taken from different works.I got a bit suspicious with 'to leave no rubs or botches in his works'.I'ts so clever.Mary Shelley meets Mao Tse Tung.Who would have thought!

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  4. I value rebelliousness and treasure the writers you brought in, almost like a word chorus of sorts. Love Shelley's opening.

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  5. Nicely done. We do think our thought, much of the time, in the words of others. Thanks for showing us precisely how you did it in your note. At our best, our thoughts are carefully edited cut-ups of those who spoke first...

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  6. Hi Jerry,

    This is indeed a seamless story. I find it hard not to picture you flipping page after page until you find the right line! (Not that I doubt your integrity.) As a whole work this could hardly be better.

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  7. Nice idea, and it did go together well.

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  8. Really great concept, and you pull it off with a very natural sounding and cohesive finished poem. This doesn't sound arbitrary at all.

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  9. It might have just been luck this time. The only thing I had to do was rearrange the lines from the order in which they were originally chosen. A little tweaking of grammar here, and minor word change there, and I have a finished product. And I have all my dead writing friends to thank for it (with the exception of McCarthy and O'Neill)! It's actually a little spooky how easily it came into being.

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  10. Interesting concept. I save phrases that resonate with me as I read or listen and often use those to create a poem. I like your method and your results!

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  11. I love your very original idea, and the subject matter is a very personal and true description of the feelings of hatred and what it can do...this piece felt like a catharsis. Good!

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  12. This is a very creative way to interpret the task we were given. You have meshed it together beautifully and it is amazing to see your sources. Very nicely done, Jerry. It's a winner.

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  13. Great technique. The result is wonderful.

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  14. Amazing. The lines fitted together like a glove.

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  15. What a great idea! I think the results are especially illuminating with regard to the nature of prose-or-verse. Which of these prose snippets seems "poetical"? Which seems "prosey"? Often it's hard to tell apart. It might be fun to do a whole series of these -- one poem from a selection of cookbooks, one poem from a selection of magazines, one from a selection of encyclopedias, etc.

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