Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The first 60 words     [wordcount exercise 1]


1 The very thought
2 Of you
3 And one ought
4 To be
5 A sycamore
6 In the grove of you
7 That bird of you
8 It sings the lore --
9 Is it lore -- what
10 Was dawning then?

11 I frowned
12 For a while
13 On the thought that
14 You were
15 He who forever may
16 Be what is --
17 With
18 As much
19 By your silence
20 At every moment

21 Have you spoken --
22 Are you in
23 This
24 Not being yourself?
25 But how
26 Had you become
27 His example and instance?
28 They always came
29 From somewhere, yes?
30 She also wavers --

31 Which came first?
32 Or was it that
33 We were simply
34 An excuse?
35 There could be
36 Here where we
37 Were resting
38 One more chance!
39 Do we only show what's
40 Been left behind?

41 All
42 There
43 Has been
44 Would be gone!
45 Will we know
46 What the aim was?
47 If you answer
48 Can we hear it?
49 When will it be
50 So?

51 "No more then?"
52 Said the itinerant
53 Who was wandering
54 More roadways
55 About the outskirts
56 Up beside the hill.
57 Them days
58 Some of them
59 Could glimpse
60 Him!

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The first word of each line is (in proper sequence) drawn from a list that proports to assemble (in statistically descending order) the 86,800 most frequently used words in the English language. From the 86,800 words in the list (currently), the above poem (or exercise) presents merely the first 60 -- i.e., the 60 most common words in English. This word list determines only the first word of each line; the rest is added by the poet -- yours truly -- in a rambling composition. (Such is the wordcount writing exercise, here at once invented and instanced.)

3 Comments:

Blogger andy gricevich said...

I've always found word-per-line counts to be really, and surprisingly, productive. Haven't done it in a long time, but have been meaning to revisit it.

Do you know of Kit Robinson's The Dolch Stanzas? It also uses this list. There's a PDF online, I think from Whale Cloth Press. A typically impenetrable Barrett Watten essay also discusses the list and Robinson's work, if I'm remembering correctly.

Anyhow, nice work.

Thu Jun 29, 12:25:00 AM PDT  
Blogger andy gricevich said...

Oh, it's not exactly the same list. And it's not word-per-line count specifically, is it? Well, anyhow, and, so, um...

Thu Jun 29, 02:25:00 PM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

tmenutcBut thanks for info on the Kit Robinson work -- I wasn't aware of it and should take a look. Wonder what list was used . . .
I liked how Bob Perlman writes via words-per-line (I guess six of 'em) in Virtual Reality. I've not used that method meself.
No idea if I'll take this wordcount thing further. An odd little experiment. (One could be ambitious and write an 86,800-line work, no doubt; but my results with merely the 1st 60 seem so-so.)

Thu Jun 29, 03:08:00 PM PDT  

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