Digital Writing with Python: Midterm

July 22, 2009

For the midterm, I wanted to create a poetic form built from a Walt Whitman poem. I've always thought Whitman has such a delicate sense of rhythm, repetition, and alliteration. His poems have an introspective, universal quality that I thought I would try to conjur as part of the poetic form. I decided on Youth, Day, Old Age and Night:

Youth, large, lusty, loving--youth full of grace, force, fascination,
Do you know that Old Age may come after you with equal grace, force, fascination?

Day full-blown and splendid-day of the immense sun, action, ambition, laughter,
The Night follows close with millions of suns, and sleep and
restoring darkness.

Thus, was borne the Whitemanesque Poetry Generator. I chose this poem as a structure because first, it is one of Whitman's shorter poems, but he also uses the four words in the title to generate the four lines of the poem repeating those words in a particular form and peppering his language with plenty of adjectives. I wanted the poem generator to be interactive so the user could choose the four words of the title that populates the rest of the poem. Right now the nouns and adjectives are generating randomly, but it would be great if the four words of the title actually drove the thematic content of the poem. Possibly a future assignment...

So, after running the generator a number of times, I get some kooky results due to the randomness. But often I get quite beautiful lines, lines that are actually poetic, thanks to Whitman's great sense of rhythm and style. This has given me some ideas on how to generate various poetic lines to be stitched together to actually create something that speaks to the human experience, rather than a random pastiche of words:

Beauty, Spring, Riches and Eternal
by IP Freeley

Beauty, clever, simple, soft--beauty full of compromises, abuse, moistures,
Do you know that riches may come after you with equal compromises, abuse, moistures?

Spring new and simple-spring of the poor allegation, stairs, chairs, taxes,
The Eternal follows close with millions of allegation, and vectors and laughing strengths.

Beauty, Spring, Longing and Forever
by IP Freeley

Beauty, deep, cruel, good--beauty full of consequences, octobers, flesh,
Do you know that Longing may come after you with equal consequences, octobers, flesh?

Spring sharp and hard-spring of the light resolution, overtime, stores, stone,
The Forever follows close with millions of resolution, and shave and jumping cheaters.
Here's a look at the code: