Glory to Them – Anderson M. Scruggs

“A hush of reverence for that vast dead
Who gave us beauty for a crust of bread.”

I came across this quotation, mis-attributed, in an essay, and found it rather compelling. Tracking down the source, however, proved to be surprisingly difficult. The attribution didn’t help, of course, sending me looking for a poet who didn’t exist, but mostly the problem was that this poem, and its poet, are both rather obscure. Continue reading “Glory to Them – Anderson M. Scruggs”

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Give Us Strength, Oh Lord, to Let our Children Starve

I came across this article today. Following on from that, I came across this extremely similar article, but on a much more readable website. Both articles date from early last year, and both concern the same event: a machine has written poetry.

I don’t approve – it is important to me, I find, that there are some arenas in which mankind is not surpassed by machines. I’m happy to concede efficiency, I’m happy to admit that a computer can simulate and calculate far more rapidly and accurately than I could ever hope to achieve. All the privilege I claim for my own species (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of creating: of making something new and original, of infusing ink and dead trees with beauty and meaning, of finding the figure trapped inside a block of stone. Continue reading “Give Us Strength, Oh Lord, to Let our Children Starve”

Sonnet XXX – Edna St. Vincent Millay

It’s Valentine’s day, a day I’ve never really cared for. On this day, twee messages are everywhere, muddying the waters of society and confusing themselves with real sentiment. It’s a day I find myself obliged to mark, but it is absolutely one of the occasions that has been crassly commercialised.

In the spirit, however, of the whole romantic thing, I thought I would write about a poem. It’s my favourite poem, at the moment, and one of about four or five that I can recite. I came across it by chance a year ago, and it stuck in my head.

Forgive, gentle reader, the incredible pretentiousness of the following lines (including this one). It is difficult to write about love and love poetry without sounding overly sentimental. I’ve tried to make it as un-gushing as possible, but have mostly failed.

Continue reading “Sonnet XXX – Edna St. Vincent Millay”