Sunday, May 20, 2007

Poetic Redundancy

The brainchild of Oulipo co-founder Raymond Queneau, poetic redundancy is based on the theory that the meaning of a rhyming poem is concentrated at the end of its lines; thus, anyone can create a new, distilled version of a poem by lopping off the bulk of each line and leaving only the last couple of words. What follow are the results obtained by applying this method to two Shakespearean sonnets:

Sonnet 73

In me behold
Few, do hang
Against the cold
Sweet birds sang.
Of such day
In the west,
Doth take away
All in rest.
Of such fire
Youth doth lie,
It must expire
Nourish'd by.
Love more strong,
Leave ere long.

Sonnet 129

Waste of shame
Action, lust
Full of blame,
Not to trust;
Despised straight;
No sooner had,
A swallowed bait
The taker mad;
Possession so;
To have, extreme;
A very woe;
Behind, a dream.
Yet none knows well
Men to this hell.

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