Older blog entries for marnanel (starting at number 884)

2 Apr 2011 (updated 2 Apr 2011 at 19:10 UTC) »

Nargery: How the triolet builder works

In case you're interested, here's how the triolet builder works.

We start by taking a set of words. Then we remove all the words which don't alternate between stressed and unstressed syllables. Next, we assign each of them a stress number whose absolute value is the number of syllables, and which is positive if the word begins on a stressed syllable and negative if it begins on an unstressed syllable. The stress numbers -1 and 0 are not allowed. Then we also assign each one a rhyme number, such that words with the same rhyme number rhyme. Here is the lexicon with stress numbers and rhyme numbers.

Next, we assign each word its most likely part of speech, as given in the Brown corpus tagset. If the word doesn't exist in that tagset, we throw it out. We use only the first character, so for example "NNS" is represented as "N". The part of speech gets concatenated with the stress number to form a "tag". For example, "N+3" is a three-syllable noun which begins on a stressed syllable, such as "cauliflower".

Then we make up a battery of phrases, each consisting of terminals (such as "if"), and nonterminals (such as "N" for noun). A script is then run over the battery to create all possible tags for the nonterminals which would fit into iambic tetrameter.

For example, this line, where R is a pronoun, A is an article, J is an adjective and N is a noun,

R are A J N

produces these arrangements. Note that R and A are constrained to be no longer than +1, and that A+1 is special-cased so that it cannot fall on a stressed syllable. Note also that we provide for both masculine (here, 8-syllable) and feminine (9-syllable) lines.

R+1 are A+1 J+1 N-4
R+1 are A+1 J+1 N-5
R+1 are A+1 J+2 N+3
R+1 are A+1 J+2 N+4
R+1 are A+1 J+3 N-2
R+1 are A+1 J+3 N-3
R+1 are A+1 J+4 N+1
R+1 are A+1 J+4 N+2


At runtime, we pick a random word from the lexicon, and select a list of words which rhyme with that word. Then for each word in the list, we note its tag, and find an arrangement that ends with that tag. We then proceed by matching nonterminals as appropriate. If after all this we find we don't have enough entries, we throw it all out and start again.

The back end is only polled twice, for the first and second lines. The rhymes for each are stored at the time. This is why all other lines will eventually loop around (as noticed by Sally and Simon).

All the lines we produce are logged and kept for a week. The front end can tell the back end to turn a triolet into a permanent post, but it can only do so for lines which exist in the log.

Syndicated 2011-04-02 18:09:01 (Updated 2011-04-02 18:19:54) from Monument

Song of Lent

Kathryn Rose was asking whether I'd written any metrical psalms. I phoned my parents and asked them to look through an old file, and they found a sonnet based on Psalm 6 that I wrote back when I was 21. I think I've improved since then, though.

O Lord, withhold your wrath against my wrong!
Be merciful to me - I faint and fail.
My vision draws to darkness, and I wail:
How long until you rescue me? How long?
Still groaning, since my strength is spent with groans,
By night I weep until I drench my bed,
My sight grows dim from sorrowing and dread,
My pains absorb my spirit, sleep and bones.
My Father, turn and save us as you said!
Display your love declared to us of old:
No hearts or mouths can praise you once grown cold,
Nor any man remember you when dead.
Away! The Lord has heard me call his name!
And all my foes shall surely fall in shame.

Syndicated 2011-04-01 15:49:57 (Updated 2011-04-01 15:50:47) from Monument

Joel on Coal

Goodness, Joel on Software has branched out into coal mining. I think this will be a miner sensation.

Syndicated 2011-04-01 11:26:50 from Monument

joining the choir = awesome

Tonight I went to my first choir practice. We sang bits of Stainer's Crucifixion and Haydn's Creation, and some other stuff I didn't know; they said they were glad of a new tenor. I'm woefully out of practice, but I need to sing more and I'm glad I joined such a friendly lot. My height caused a small headache for the person whose job is to find robes (she's the one who covers all the basses). Several people offered to drive me home. A good evening!

Syndicated 2011-03-31 01:41:45 (Updated 2011-03-31 01:42:50) from Monument

29 Mar 2011 (updated 29 Mar 2011 at 18:11 UTC) »

Recessional hymn

One of my dad's favourite songs is I'll never find another you by The Seekers. He said to me once that the tune would make a good hymn, and I've been turning the idea over in my mind, and here it is. This is a recessional hymn, i.e. it's for the end of a service. I didn't do the bridge, because hymns don't have bridges.

I like the way this came out, because it has the traditional trinitarian structure without explicitly naming names. Obviously it would be difficult actually to use the hymn, because of the copyright on the tune.

When you made this planet,
you saw it at its best,
for a week you laboured
then brought it to a rest;
you designed the whole creation
to rest and labour too,
and my Lord, I pray my life will mirror you.

When you walked this planet
you saw it at its worst,
and in all our troubles
you bore the burden first;
for you trod the path before us
in everything we do,
and my Lord, I pray my life will mirror you.

When you stir within us
you see us as we are;
as we face temptation
your word is never far;
for within our hearts you've written
your message through and through,
and my Lord, I pray my life will mirror you.

Syndicated 2011-03-29 16:28:21 (Updated 2011-03-29 17:52:51) from Monument

That meme

The problem with LJ: we all think we are so close, but really, we may know almost nothing about each other. So I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.

Then (if you want to) post this in your LJ and find out what people don't know about you.


(I have no great confidence that more than a couple of people will ask anything. These used to be really popular back in the day, but LJ is quieter now.)

Syndicated 2011-03-29 14:47:04 from Monument

More triolets

I've been getting a good response from contributors for the quarterly triolet review.

The only publicly-accessible part of triolets.org is the classic triolets (i.e. the ones which are out of copyright). When I release an issue of the quarterly triolet review, those will be added. But there are several triolets which are still live on the site (mostly mine), such as In depths of darkness, which aren't linked anywhere because they don't fall into either category. Of course they'll trickle in slowly if they're printed in the review, but I don't want to make it all about me, and it'll take years to get through them all. Maybe I need a new section for them.

I've added a few new old triolets to the site, including the rather silly The child is father to the man by Hopkins, and All women born by Bridges, which is so misogynistic I almost didn't include it even though it was written by the then Poet Laureate. Then I decided if he had opinions like that, it wasn't really something I wanted to hush up.

If you use Twitter, you can follow @triolets to get a random triolet every day (and similarly for identi.ca).

Syndicated 2011-03-29 14:31:54 from Monument

triolets.org redesign

I finished the redesign over the weekend.

Would you all hit the random button a few times, and let me know your favourites? If you see any breakage, let me know as well, of course.

Thanks, everyone.

Syndicated 2011-03-27 18:01:51 from Monument

26 Mar 2011 (updated 26 Mar 2011 at 12:10 UTC) »

RIP, DWJ

Diana Wynne Jones has died


Diana Wynne Jones, sustainer of the imaginations of me and a million others, has died after a long illness. I always hoped I could become a famous writer before she died, so I could thank her for being my inspiration.

Syndicated 2011-03-26 11:11:49 (Updated 2011-03-26 11:28:30) from Monument

25 Mar 2011 (updated 25 Mar 2011 at 04:10 UTC) »

triolets.org rethink

I'm thinking of redesigning triolets.org and making it into a (probably quarterly) poetry journal, instead of a forum.

As part of this, I want to redesign the look and feel of the site. What do you think of this? (Based on an idea from Rio.)

http://triolets.org/2/t1

http://triolets.org/2/t5

I'm not sure about the menu on the left-hand side. It makes the page longer for little useful benefit, since those links could be on the front page, and the front page is linked from the breadcrumbs.

Edit: Another possible layout, suggested by Fin: http://triolets.org/2/b/

Syndicated 2011-03-25 02:37:17 (Updated 2011-03-25 03:20:36) from Monument

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