Friday, June 27, 2008

Irrational Sonnet

An irrational sonnet is a 14-line poem composed of five verses, with each verse containing 3, 1, 4, 1 and 5 lines, respectively (3.1415 being the first five digits of pi, the most well-known irrational number). The rhyme scheme for such a sonnet, as devised by Oulipo member Jacques Bens, is AAB C BAAB C CDCCD. Below please find an example dealing with the subject of surveillance.

Surveillance

It was becoming difficult to be–
Without (at the same moment) being seen.
Surveillance’s continuous saccades

Were there, profiling each chattering ‘I,’

Assembling Cubist portraits from snapshots
Of e-communiqu├ęs and satellite feeds–
Small slivers of what makes us ‘you’ and ‘me,’
All siphoned from the web and then re-thought

According to the Weltanschauung of spies.

The borders separating truth from lies
Had dimmed, as context spun from our control,
Relinquished to the media’s shifting light....
We pined after identity by night,
Then held our secrets closer to our souls.



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