“Physical Law”

While perusing an old newspaper, specifically St. Cloud Times, May 10, 1946, this amusing short verse by Esther Baldwin York caught my attention: Little boys and cookie jars Gravitate together. Separate them by a shelf It’s a question whether It will be a stool or chair For the best ascent, Or the jar hooked off the […]

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Gleanings from the Past #80

Cynicism and Horror Only a cynic can create horror — for behind every masterpiece of the sort must reside a driving demonic force that despises the human race and its illusions, and longs to pull them to pieces and mock them. — H. P. Lovecraft, letter to Edward Baird dated c. October 1923, quoted in […]

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E. E. Cummings’ “Anti-Acknowledgement”

In 1935, American poet E. E. Cummings (more popularly written as e. e. cummings) was supposed to publish a book called 70 Poems. Unfortunately, all of the fourteen publishing houses he reached out for turned him down. He had to borrow money from his mother in order to publish his book. Cummings self-published the book and […]

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“The Wind and the Moon”

Image: DeviantArt Said the Wind to the Moon: “I will blow you out; You stare In the air Like a ghost in a chair, Always looking what I am about I hate to be watched; I’ll blow you out.” The Wind blew hard, and out went the Moon. So, deep On a heap Of clouds […]

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The Locked Boxes Paradox

Imagine an infinite row of boxes, each unlocked, each with a key in its lock. At time , lock Box 1 and put its key into Box 2. At time , lock Box 2 and put its key into Box 3. . . . At time , lock Box  and put its key into Box […]

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An Interesting Advertisement for a Printing Press (Which Also Inspired a Parody)

Hoe Double Octuple Newspaper Press — 1903 Model The July 1911 issue of Munsey’s Magazine ran an advertisement for a printing press by R. Hoe & Co., a printing press manufacturer. Instead of writing a usual product spiel, the company opted to turn the ad into a creative writing exercise: I am the printing press, […]

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Less Is More: A Poetic Paradox

Image: NASA In his Paradoxes in Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics (1986), Gábor J. Székely shared a paradox learned from his professor, Alfréd Rényi: Since I started to deal with information theory I have often meditated upon the conciseness of poems; how can a single line of verse contain far more ‘information’ than a highly […]

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Chaos in English Pronunciation and Spelling

Dutch writer, poet, traveler, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870 – 1946) wrote a remarkable poem aptly titled “The Chaos”. The poem demonstrates several of the most famous (and infamous) irregularities in English spelling and pronunciation.  Trenité managed to collect about 800 of those irregularities and versified them into this chaotic, albeit amusing poem. “The Chaos” […]

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“Mortal Limit”

Robert Penn Warren I saw the hawk ride updraft in the sunset over Wyoming. It rose from coniferous darkness, past gray jags Of mercilessness, past whiteness, into the gloaming Of dream-spectral light above the lazy purity of snow-snags. There–west–were the Tetons. Snow-peaks would soon be In dark profile to break constellations. Beyond what height Hangs […]

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The Sunken City

Image: DeviantArt The following poem is written by German poet Wilhelm Mueller (1794 – 1827) and translated to English by James Clarence Mangan (1803 – 1849): Hark! the faint bells of the sunken city Peal once more their wonted evening chime! From the deep abysses floats a ditty, Wild and wondrous, of the olden time. […]

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