Saturday, 28 August 2010

A Preposterous Puzzle


The idea of the Internet is that it should bring people together. Perverts are a good example. In 1990 a haddock fetishist was a lonely fellow who thought that nobody else in all the world would ever understand him. Now, twenty years later, he has online forums, chatrooms, Wikipedia entries and pornographic, subaquatic films only a mouse's click away.

The same principle applies to paranoiacs, terrorists and knitting enthusiasts. Nobody is alone any more, except me. For nobody in all the world is quite as pointlessly interested in verse form as I am, or at least not that I've discovered.

Anyway, in the interests of locating someone as boring as me, here is a puzzle. I have taken a famous - but metrically fiendish - poem. I have transcribed it using "x" to denote a stressed syllable and "-" to denote a soft one.

I have also added in all the rhymes. But because many of the rhymes are internal I can't mark it up as simple ABAB. Instead I have replaced the "x" with another letter. I have also used capital letters for feminine rhymes, which therefore carry over to the following dash.

So can you guess the poem?

Can you be bothered to guess the poem?

Are you there my dull, dull brother?

Hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frere!


x - - x - - a
- B -
x - - x - - a
- - C - - - C -
- - x - - C -
- - d - d - - x - - d
- - e – x - - - f
- - g - - g - - x - - g
x - - e - - x - - B -
x - - x - - A
- B -
x - - x - - A


- - g - - g - - x - - g
- x – x - H -
- - x x - H -
- - x - - - x - - x
- - x - i
- - i
- - x - - j - - j
- - j - - K -
K -
K -
x - - - K -
l - - - l - - - a
- - a
- - x - x - - - f
x - - x - - a
- B -
x - - x - - a

- - m
- B -
- - m
x - - x - m
- x - - - x - - - m
- n
- - o - - o - o
- p
- - x - - p - - n
- n
- - q
- - x - - x - q

For all those who can't be arsed, you can get the answer (as well as a really weird recital) by following this link.


5 comments:

  1. Haha "can't be arsed" -- how did you know?! I'm trying to figure out how a subaquatic porn film plays out, specifically the audio. And what kind of role playing would be involved?

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  2. First I had to find out what a feminine rhyme was. Then I did try, really I did. But a poem that is famous to you does not ring the same bells for me.

    So eventually I gave in, and clicked. Thank you for not making this an exam question.

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  3. I had the same issues Deborah had. Although I laughed aloud at the Waste Lands bit. Do I get partial credit?

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  4. The Antipodean, immetricate,30 August 2010 16:05

    Me three. Dogberry, I don't supposed you'd care to add to / expand on / correct Wikipedia's comments on feminine rhyme for us fewer mortals?

    I am a little worried that if you find this counterpart, the two of you will either take over the world or, after a series of adventures, disappear over a waterfall, locked in mortal combat.

    @loveable_homebody: the audio could be whalesong, perhaps?

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  5. Hmm, I remember learning about feminine rhymes but I'd never heard them called "feminine rhymes." Thanks!

    I also recall seeing some of William Blake's notes that consisted entirely of stress markings like your 'x' and '-', where he was planning poems by meter first, with words added later.

    Also, what an interesting poem. I'd never heard it, but now that I have, I think I'll try to memorize it...

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