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April 7, 2011 1:43 PM   Subscribe

This is just to say/Mefi's Cortex/has created/ a william carlos williams/ poem generator Forgive me/ it came from Think Stank/ Previously
posted by The Whelk (79 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I fucking love these.
This is just to say

I have become
the honeydews
that were around
the wardrobe

and which
you were probably
burning
for Shabbat

Forgive me
they were awake
so nimble
and so light
posted by bewilderbeast at 1:45 PM on April 7, 2011


It doesn't refresh for me (FF 4.0/Win 7).
posted by tommasz at 1:46 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have thrown
the taters
that were below
the shoggoth

and which
you were probably
shaking
for Rapture

Forgive me
they were helpful
so dangerous
and so lacking
posted by brundlefly at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2011


I have burst
the dwarves
that were in
the bordello

and which
you were probably
leaving
for reeducation

Forgive me
they were ossified
so broken
and so light
posted by rtha at 1:48 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have blown the Kennedys that were near the plate
and which you were probably reaving for Hannukah
Forgive me they were invincible so fertile and so colossal

Eschewing the concretism in light of thread readability. We all know how it goes.
posted by BeerFilter at 1:49 PM on April 7, 2011




I have strewn
the gyroscopes
that were above
the bureau

and which
you were probably
sawing
for Ramadan

Forgive me
they were unequal
so elastic
and so impartial
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have condemned
the husbands
that were beneath
the window

and which
you were probably
forbidding
for Batman

Forgive me
they were lean
so glib
and so recondite
posted by grabbingsand at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This one is downright randy!

This Is Just To Say

I have blown
the teeth
that were upon
the sexswing

and which
you were probably
spilling
for ingestion

Forgive me
they were long
so alleged
and so tender
posted by Mister_A at 1:51 PM on April 7, 2011


why would you even put in the word sexswing, cortex?
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on April 7, 2011


Why wouldn't you?
posted by bondcliff at 1:54 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know, right?
posted by Mister_A at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2011


Very funny and entertaining. I love this! Hmm, with the blue in mind.

I have flagged
the ad hominems
that were below
the OP

and which
you were probably
saving
for jessamyn

Forgive me
they were
so tl;dr
and so meta
posted by nickyskye at 1:55 PM on April 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I have found
the babies
that were by
the computer

and which
you were probably
forgiving
for lunch

Forgive me
they were lamentable
so fallacious
and so familiar
posted by Mender at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This one has me seriously worried about Cortex...

This Is Just To Say

I have spread
the women
that were across
the dungeon

and which
you were probably
beholding
for dowry

Forgive me
they were used
so grateful
and so hungry
posted by naju at 1:56 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, it's college.

I have hit
the condiments
that were across
the skateboard

and which
you were probably
drinking
for reinvesting

Forgive me
they were exotic
so old-fashioned
and so careful
posted by The Whelk at 1:58 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have bolstered
the antennae
that were beneath
the pit

and which
you were probably
shrinking
for bronzing

Forgive me
they were ajar
so lovely
and so changeable
posted by sarahnade at 1:59 PM on April 7, 2011


This one's completely psycho!

This Is Just To Say

I have split
the appendices
that were above
the methlab

and which
you were probably
bending
for death

Forgive me
they were chilly
so labored
and so violent
posted by Mister_A at 1:59 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just Sayin'

I have killed
the memes
that were on
the blue

and which
you were probably
saving
for this post

Forgive me
they were decrepit
so tired
and so old
posted by benzenedream at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"This is what was intended from the first.
So take it our in your rotten whisky and
silk underwear. That's what you get out of
it. But put it down in your memory that this
is the kind of stuff they can't get away
with. It is there and it's loaded. No one
can understand what makes the present age
what it is. They are mystified by certain
instances."

-William Carlos Williams
posted by clavdivs at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about a Marianne Moore generator that mashes together pretty syllables?
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2011


Oh and if you want browse all of Cortex's finished Think Stank Projects, Use the Did It Tag
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on April 7, 2011


This is one of those dirt-simple, rock-stupid ideas that I can't believe it never occurred to me to make before. I feel like it needs more vocabulary, so I'll probably keep free-associating more past participles and plural nouns and such in fits and starts.

Jofus's WCW riff tumblr was very much on my mind; this all happened this afternoon because I saw another riff in a thread, thought of letting him know, and then had a much worse idea and made that happen instead. So, sorry, Jofus: there's an actual cite for your blog somewhere but I can't remember where it is now.
posted by cortex at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2011



He could have made
some money
Green and grateful
in bundlefuls

had he not
given the game away
with coding
And gameplay

There was wealth
in his words
A poetry
Generator
posted by Elmore at 2:02 PM on April 7, 2011


The Moore Pasteboard Ephemera Generator is a great idea.
posted by clavdivs at 2:03 PM on April 7, 2011


Oh, man, this our favorite inside joke EVER.

I have torn
the matrices
that were beside
the purse

and which
you were probably
weaving
for ingestion

Forgive me
they were domineering
so awake
and so roomy
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:04 PM on April 7, 2011


I have felt
the dongs
that were under
the dishwasher


Have we not all felt the dongs under the dishwasher? Who among us has not?
posted by jquinby at 2:05 PM on April 7, 2011


OK I'll play

This Is Just To Say

I have cut
the potatoes
that were in
the toilet

and which
you were probably
overthinking
for eternity

Forgive me
they were wealthy
so aromatic
and so oceanic
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


so much depends
upon
an agricultural
organizer
praised with enjoyable
sunshine
beside the absolute
wife.
posted by yeti at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have upset
the men
that were behind
the ditch

and which
you were probably
splitting
for pasteuration

Forgive me
they were purple
so deep
and so obedient
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2011


I have my own,
Poetry generator,

She's upstairs,
Asleep,
Right now.
posted by Elmore at 2:06 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have drawn
the oranges
that were upon
the toilet

and which
you were probably
clothing
for vengence

Forgive me
they were embarrassed
so demonic
and so violent

The mental image just made me laugh for five minutes.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:07 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is just to say ...

I have seen it
           and so have you
                    when it puts all flowers
to shame.
           Too, there are the starfish
                    stiffened by the sun
and other sea wrack
           and weeds. We knew that
                    along with the rest of it
for we were born by the sea,
           knew its rose hedges
                    to the very water's brink.
There the pink mallow grows
           and in their season
                    strawberries
and there, later,
           we went to gather
                    the wild plum.
I cannot say
           that I have gone to hell
                    for your love
but often
           found myself there
                    in your pursuit.
I do not like it
           and wanted to be
                    in heaven. Hear me out.
Do not turn away.
I have learned much in my life
           from books
                    and out of them
about love.
           Death
                    is not the end of it.
There is a hierarchy
           which can be attained,
                    I think,
in its service.
           Its guerdon
                    is a fairy flower;
a cat of twenty lives.
           If no one came to try it
                    the world
would be the loser.
           It has been
                    for you and me
as one who watches a storm
           come in over the water.
                    We have stood
from year to year
           before the spectacle of our lives
                    with joined hands.
The storm unfolds.
           Lightning
                    plays about the edges of the clouds.
The sky to the north
           is placid,
                    blue in the afterglow
as the storm piles up.
           It is a flower
                    that will soon reach
the apex of its bloom.
           We danced,
                    in our minds,
and read a book together.
           You remember?
                    It was a serious book.
And so books
           entered our lives.
The sea! The sea!
           Always
                    when I think of the sea
there comes to mind
           the Iliad
                    and Helen's public fault
that bred it.
           Were it not for that
                    there would have been
no poem but the world
           if we had remembered,
                    those crimson petals
spilled among the stones,
           would have called it simply
                    murder.
The sexual orchid that bloomed then
           sending so many
                    disinterested
men to their graves
           has left its memory
                    to a race of fools
or heroes
           if silence is a virtue.
                    The sea alone
with its multiplicity
           holds any hope.
                    The storm
has proven abortive
           but we remain
                    after the thoughts it roused
to
           re-cement our lives.
                    It is the mind
the mind
           that must be cured
                    short of death's
intervention,
           and the will becomes again
                    a garden. The poem
is complex and the place made
           in our lives
                    for the poem.
Silence can be complex too,
           but you do not get far
                    with silence.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I keep getting "I have beans/the [object]", and I can't stop laughing.
posted by specialagentwebb at 2:11 PM on April 7, 2011


I have understood the gyroscopes that were beside the colon
and which you were probably overtaking for Pentecost
Forgive me they were handy so slow and so uptight

I have worn the nannies that were by the sexswing
and which you were probably building for noon
Forgive me they were shaggy so roomy and so bad

posted by ego at 2:12 PM on April 7, 2011


I keep getting "I have beans/the [object]", and I can't stop laughing.

Oh shit, I just added a few beans but picked the wrong word list to add them to.
posted by cortex at 2:13 PM on April 7, 2011


cortex - I will destroy you.

This is so awesome - and I've said this in other threads, but I don't really have the time to keep the "This is just to say" tumblr updated anymore, so if anyone wants the keys to it they're more than welcome - drop me a mefimail.
posted by Jofus at 2:15 PM on April 7, 2011



This Is Just To Say

I have burned
the helicopters
that were on
the yacht

and which
you were probably
subletting
for bronzing

Forgive me
they were gamy
so useful
and so true
posted by misha at 2:18 PM on April 7, 2011


Forgive me, they were high
so swanky and so hilarious

How does Cortex know about all my ex-boyfriends?
posted by memewit at 2:24 PM on April 7, 2011


I have strewn the women that were on the bureau
and which you were probably stealing for bronzing
Forgive me they were verdant so zealous and so burly
posted by ego at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have parodied
the poem
that was in
your oeuvre

and which
you were probably
saving
for posterity

Forgive me
it was enjoyable
so sweet
and so easy
posted by Jehan at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I didn't want to post more than one but this one just killed me:

I have seen
the offspring
that were near
the iPad

and which
you were probably
holding
for Hannukah

Forgive me
they were clear
so disgusted
and so angry
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2011


Technically it's a "This is Just to Say Poem Generator," not a "William Carlos Williams Poem Generator. He wrote a hell of a lot of amazing poetry besides Canto XXII and This is Just to Say ... /longtimefan

What about all this writing?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:30 PM on April 7, 2011


misha: "I have burned
the helicopters
that were on
the yacht
"

"Arms with hands grasping seek to clutch at the prows.
Bodies thrown recklessly in the way are cut aside.
It is a sea of faces about them in agony, in despair

until the horror of the race dawns staggering the mind;
the whole sea become an entanglement of watery bodies
lost to the world bearing what they cannot hold. Broken,

beaten, desolate, reaching from the dead to be taken up
they cry out, failing, failing! their cries rising
in waves still as the skillful yachts pass over."
posted by boo_radley at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The next step is to do is The Rime of the Ancient Metafilter.
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This Is Just To Say

I have felt
the taters
that were behind
the beans

and which
you were probably
mowing
for eBay

Forgive me
they were domineering
so ubiquitous
and so mysterious

posted by zennie at 2:40 PM on April 7, 2011


Eponysterical!

I have beaten
the pineapples
that were on
the boat

and which
you were probably
misunderstanding
for Halloween

Forgive me
they were lamentable
so roomy
and so juicy

posted by Halloween Jack at 2:42 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have arisen
the babies
that were across
the couch

and which
you were probably
stealing
for sex

Forgive me
they were many
so abhorrent
and so obtainable

STEALING BABIES FOR SEX FTW!
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:45 PM on April 7, 2011


and which
you were probably
misleading
for Ragnarok


Loki, you bastard.
posted by ego at 2:56 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have ridden
the ladies
that were around
the bathtub

and which
you were probably
becoming
for lulz

Forgive me
they were powerful
so innate
and so damaging

(Thank you; I love this.)
posted by iamkimiam at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2011


We've reached critical mass. This thread must be nuked.
posted by reductiondesign at 3:13 PM on April 7, 2011


Poetry is for rubes
Check out my hand gestures
I'm declaring war on
Every
State
posted by Elmore at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2011


done
posted by Elmore at 3:15 PM on April 7, 2011


I have arranged
the possibilites
for parodying
that one poem

the one
you have definitely
seen
parodied so often before

I'm so sorry
it's a great poem
too much
to resist
posted by wobh at 3:28 PM on April 7, 2011


I have kept
the sheep
that were outside
the trashcan

and which
you were probably
clothing
for ingestion

Forgive me
they were bright
so womanly
and so flaky

okay, crepped out now.
posted by The Whelk at 3:36 PM on April 7, 2011


Forgive me
they were unwritten
so dangerous
and so childlike
posted by The otter lady at 3:46 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have shaved
the kabobs
that were on
the airplane

and which
you were probably
blowing
for Halloween

Forgive me
they were kind
so useful
and so black-and-white

fucking genius
posted by owtytrof at 3:47 PM on April 7, 2011


These are so very good. A near endless source of amusement.

Generators such as this (and Cortex's other markov-chain based webstuffs) remind me a fair bit of madlibs, and feel like a modern take on the same. The silly hilarity of juxtaposed imagery is rather similar, at least.
posted by kilo hertz at 4:30 PM on April 7, 2011


*clicks "everycommentisgonnabeapoem" tag*
... disappointment.
posted by mingo_clambake at 6:09 PM on April 7, 2011


This Is Just To Say

I have broken
the keylimes
that were around
the dufflebag

and which
you were probably
vexing
for vengence

Forgive me
they were wholesale
so female
and so ethereal


All of these are fun, but this one has a) vexing/for vengence, which is just great, and then b) they were wholesale/so female/and so ethereal, which just sounds, well, perfect. Say it aloud. Seriously. Someday, when my band actually exists, somehow I'll get that in a song.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:14 PM on April 7, 2011


Amazing stuff.

Cortex - could you provide a peek under the hood? I think many of us (like me, vaguely programming-literate) would love to know how all of this actually works. Any good resources on using Markov chains for producing naturalish language?
posted by mammary16 at 6:17 PM on April 7, 2011


Makes one wonder what Dada and Oulipo would have done, given access to corpus linguistics and natural language processing...
posted by mammary16 at 6:22 PM on April 7, 2011


Cortex - could you provide a peek under the hood? I think many of us (like me, vaguely programming-literate) would love to know how all of this actually works. Any good resources on using Markov chains for producing naturalish language?

In this case, what's under the hood is really, really simple—I'm not doing any clever algorithmic language generation, I'm just sticking random words into slots in a template from a set of word lists I put together. It's very literally a quickie perl implementation of a one-off madlib. Lightning tour of the code:

First I define a bunch of word lists as arrays of single words, like so:

my @pp = qw/
eaten
beaten
overthought
beanplated
...
regurgitated
/;


And then for each of the wildcard spots in the template I'm going to build, I pick a random item from the appropriate array, like so:

my $pastparticiple = $pp[int(rand(@pp))];

Done like that, I can really easily add new words to the lists without a problem.

Those steps done, the code that actually slots those words into the poem's template looks (minus some formatting noise) like this:

my $poem = "I have $pastparticiple
the $pluralnoun
that were $preposition
the $singularnoun

and which
you were probably
$presentparticiple
for $occasion

Forgive me
they were $adjective1
so $adjective2
and so $adjective3";


And then perl just barfs out a simple webpage containing that poem. Voila! Super simple random poem generator.

The only complicated parts of this project really was (a) breaking down the poem into static bits vs. replaceable wildcards, (b) correctly characterizing each wildcard in terms of the syntactic role it played, and (c) generating a list of words for each of those parts.

(a) is pretty easy, though I waffled on whether to keep "saving" on line seven static or make it a wildcard. I went with a wildcard, but as a result that's probably the most syntactically weak point in the random poems—the interaction between that list of present participles and the prepositional "for [occasion]" phrase that follows it is often kind of wonky. I might reduce/refine the list of items I have for the present participle to reduce that wonkiness a bit.

(b) is a matter of figuring out what kinds of words can go in any given list, and identifying part of speech was a good first step but even from there I had to wiggle it about somewhat. Like, the [singular noun] bit could in principle be any sort of noun, but I tended to throw things that could have a role as a surface or a container or other such object-that-can-be-occupied function since verbing things in or on or under it seemed to maybe make more sense that way. I'm also, for all my armchair interest in computational linguistics, terrible about the basic jargon, so trying to pin down what to call the verb inflections for example was helpful just for the word list bit...

(c) the word lists was a mix of nicking stuff from online resources and brainstorming. The adjectives list is almost entirely a paste job from a list of relatively common adjectives; the preposition list is basically all by hand because I wanted clearly spatial relationships, not temporal relationships like "after" or possessive stuff like "of", or spatial stuff that required two objects to makes sense like "between". The verbs I supplemented by nicking from a list but also typed a lot in; the nouns are all me randomly brainstorming, since languages are so full of nouns that searching for a list is madness.

So, that's the deal. This was a blessedly quick hack; the majority of the time I spent between thinking "oh, I could do this" and mentioning it on twitter was just putting words in those arrays, since the program itself was so simple. I may go in and add a couple other poem templates; The Red Wheelbarrow at least would be a gimme, but maybe some other WCW stuff too, I dunno. The question is whether I can really recycle word lists between poems or if they should be more tailored to each specific one.
posted by cortex at 6:50 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks Cortex!
posted by mammary16 at 6:55 PM on April 7, 2011


This seems to be only one specific poem.

A far better WCW poem:

He invites the storm
He lives by it! instinct
With fears that are not fears
but prickles of ecstasy.

posted by Eideteker at 7:08 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is one of those linguistic experiments reveals something essential about the source poem.

I can't speak for Williams specifically, but his compatriot Pound (who considered Williams as a fellow Imagist) thought of the ideal poem as a "vortex" - a "radiant node or cluster" through which "ideas are constantly rushing".

It is completely appropriate that we take Vorticist poems, turn them into abstract structures, and run words through them.
posted by mammary16 at 7:13 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have shrunk
the DVDs
that were above
the ditch

and which
you were probably
spoiling
for death

Forgive me
they were salty
so previous
and so laughable
posted by alight at 8:30 PM on April 7, 2011


I have regurgitated
the octopi
that were across
the barrel

and which
you were probably
stealing
for dowry

Forgive me
they were teeny
so rustic
and so aloof
posted by arianell at 9:03 PM on April 7, 2011


Um, I've spent an embarrassing amount of time on on this site today. Uh, cortex, thank you and fuck you, but mostly thank you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:26 PM on April 7, 2011


I have cut
the alumni
that were beside
the doghouse

and which
you were probably
foretelling
for later

Forgive me
they were utopian
so mushy
and so joyous
posted by arcticseal at 2:18 AM on April 8, 2011


Mmm...alumni
posted by arcticseal at 2:18 AM on April 8, 2011


This one was quite coherent, though strange as it were:

I have strewn
the steaks
that were outside
the piano

and which
you were probably
slaying
for foodblogging

Forgive me
they were dead
so calculating
and so discreet

(even the proper use of discreet!)
posted by iamkimiam at 4:10 AM on April 8, 2011


(for this purpose, that is)
posted by iamkimiam at 4:10 AM on April 8, 2011


The apparition of poems in the cloud;
Parodies on a professional white background.
posted by Zozo at 8:28 AM on April 8, 2011


I have sold
the feet
that were by
the briefcase

and which
you were probably
drinking
for naptime

Forgive me
they were teeny
so ceaseless
and so early

Teeny, ceaseless early feet...I would have sold them too.
posted by sweetkid at 11:57 AM on April 8, 2011


I have seized
the witch house CDRs
that were melting under
the kiddie pool

and which
you were probably
stashing
for Michaelmas

Forgive me
they were S✝▲NK\▼/
so ~|✝▼✝▼|~
and so ℑ⊇≥◊≤⊆ℜ
posted by mrgrimm at 2:29 PM on April 8, 2011


ok, this one is brilliant:

This Is Just To Say

I have hidden
the men
that were under
the BMW

and which
you were probably
misunderstanding
for Rapture

Forgive me
they were misty
so curved
and so stereotyped
posted by jquinby at 3:51 PM on April 8, 2011


This is just to say

I have raped
the Zen poems
that were hidden
inside the algorithm
posted by Twang at 4:47 PM on April 8, 2011


Oops, typo;
Of course I meant reaped.
Sorry
For any inconvenience
posted by Twang at 4:50 PM on April 8, 2011


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