Re: Interpreting dead people's creative works (was: Riddles ...)

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Sat Jan 06 2001 - 12:31:39 MST

From:, Fri, 05 Jan 2001

>Another good example of translated poetry is in the work of Stanislaw Lem,
>translated from Polish to English. The Cyberiad has two robots engaging in
>a poetry duel. One is challenged to write "a poem about a haircut! But
>lofty, nobel, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet
>heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every
>word beginning with the letter "s"!"

for those wondering...

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissord short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson signed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some saveage, spectacular suicide.

"Well what do you say to that?" asked Trurl, his arms folded proudly.
But Klapaucius was already shouting:

"Now all in g! A sonnet, trochaic hexameter, about an old cyclotron who
kept sixteen artificial mistresses, blue and radioactive, had four wings,
three purple pavilions, two lacquered chests, each containing exactly one
thousand medallions bearing the likeness of Czar Murdicog the Headless..."

"Grinding gleeful gears, Gerontogyron grabbed/Giggling gynecobalt-60 golems,"
began the machine, but Trurl leaped to the console, shut off the power and
turned, defending the machine with his body.

"Enough!" he said, hoarse with indignation. "How dare you waste a great talent
on such drivel? Either give it decent poems to write or I call the whole thing

"What, those aren't decent poems?" protested Klapaucius.

"Certainly not! I didn't build a machine to solve ridiculous crossword
puzzles! That's hack work, not Great Art! Just give it a topic, any topic,
as diffiicult as you like ..."

Klapaucius thought, and thought some more. Finally he nodded and said:

"Very well. Let's have a love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in
the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little
topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand,
and in the cybernetic spirit."

"Love and tensor algebra? Have you taken leave of your senses?"


Thanks Chris! This delightlful book is on my my bookshelf, UNREAD still.
(OK, I peeked, to find the 6 line poem). Now moved up in my reading queue.


who sees nothing nonsensical about love expressed in tensor algebra (with
a little bit of topology and higher calculus, of course)

Amara Graps email:
Computational Physics vita: finger
Multiplex Answers URL:
"Sometimes I think I understand everything. Then I regain
consciousness." --Ashleigh Brilliant

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