Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Rose Serf

    We lose elf lore.

    So Eros fowl flew lower.

    Self wolf role.


    Foe swore woe.

    Rose serf.


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Sunday night I played with the word ‘flowers.’

The word ‘flowers’ contains seven letters, five consonants—F, L R, S and W—and two vowels—O and E.

First, I jotted down a list of words that used only those letters. (I did it informally, I didn’t write a program to create all possible combinations and permutations and test them against an online dictionary.) I came up with this list in this order: rose, we, flow, swore, low, sew, so, woe, slew, elf, owe, slow, serf, worf (a mistake—I thought ‘worf’ was what crosses the warp when weaving but that’s the woof), flew, Eros, lower, slower, fowl, sow, lose, foe, row, roe, wolf, self, lore and role.

Second, I looked at that list of words and wondered what I could make from it. ‘Rose Serf’ practically wrote itself, coming together with no erasing or second guessing.

Nonsense verse (“Nonsense verse is a form of poetry…which is intentionally and overtly paradoxical, silly, witty, whimsical or just plain strange”) has a long tradition in the west. What’s amazing about a lot of nonsense verse is that it can be so evocative (remember ‘Jabberwocky? ’) even though it is essentially meaningless or, as in this example, completely constrained by artificial limitations. (Strong limitations. I could have used little words like ‘a’ or ‘the’ and still had as much fun, but there's a purity to using only source words.)

I have no idea how this reads to the average person clicking in from the blogosphere. But I could (I won’t!) annotate each line of ‘Rose Serf’ and explain the meaning it evokes for me, and the assemblage overall evokes a larger meaning for me.

The word ‘flowers’ was like soil, rich in nutrient letters. The process of writing took up those nutrients, recombined them into useful substance words and ‘Rose Serf’ is the flower, the ornamental end product and ultimate purpose of the process.

I’ve no comment on flowers as the sexual organs of plants and poetry as, among many things, the language of love for people.

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