WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

It could be verse

Something I’d like to see more of at The Disappointed Housewife is found or “mined” poetry from texts that are not at all poetry. A good example is my English friend Nate’s piece he “discovered” in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.

Maybe Nate has too much free time on his hands, but what he did was, he leafed through Ivanhoe (I’ve already told you about this, but now I’m actively encouraging you to emulate) and pulled out random phrases that had a certain je ne sais quoi. Then he arranged them in the most pleasing fashion he could come up with, producing a real poem that some guy (or gal) might well have come up with, given world enough and time. Here’s a brief excerpt:

All forlorn travelers
Must become extravagant when a figure in white
appears like something unreal
at either end of the hall.
Illuminated in brilliant patches,
standing carelessly at the door,
She points to him with the malignant envy
    of a hedge-priest.

Nate assures me that these snippets weren’t anywhere near one another in the book, and I believe him – though I have no intention of checking to make sure.

Another acquaintance of mine will have one of these coming out next week. Stay tuned. But in the meantime, why not try one of your own? Pick a public domain text via Project Gutenberg or another free-text site (like Authorama) and go to town.

I have a feeling there’s plenty of poetry to be found in works other than old novels. Anything with lots of words will do.

Read the rest of Nate’s little masterpiece here, and let me take this opportunity to thank Sir Walter Scott for hiding such a clever bit of verse in his big old “romance.”

4 comments on “It could be verse

  1. Priscilla
    January 18, 2018

    I like Nate’s poem, especially how strong it remained through all the verses. I’ve tried a few of these before, and once you start, it’s hard to find the right words to keep going and still have the same feel.

    ANYWAY, here’s a short one I put on the front of a handmade Father’s Day card once. It’s from a Peter De Vries novel called Let Me Count the Ways:

    The underlying reality
    Of everything,
    Simple enough, love, good, honor,
    Stand in the shadow of my father.

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 18, 2018

      I love your little poem! And that it’s from Peter De Vries is very nice — I used to read him a lot back in the day.

      There’s an old song with lyrics that are supposed to be taken from all the layers of a peeling billboard sign. I guess this is the literary equivalent.

  2. Carrie Rubin
    January 18, 2018

    I love this idea. If I find a spare minute, I’ll definitely give it a try. It would be fun to do it from our own manuscripts as well. See what’s lurking there. 😁

    • Kevin Brennan
      January 18, 2018

      I like the idea of using our own work! No copyright issues that way … 😉

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This entry was posted on January 18, 2018 by in Writing and tagged , , .
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