What if William Wordsworth (1770-1850) were writing today? And what if he had a corporate-type editor? Imagine the instant-messaging dialogue that might take place after the great poet submitted a new work for review. Actually, you don’t need to, because that’s what this post is about. The launch point is this timeless Wordsworth poem, from 1807.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of the bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
BANES: well i’ve read the poem and i think its a good start. a solid start
WORDSWORTH: Actually, it’s complete.
BANES: dont need to add anything
BANES: just tighten it up a bit
WORDSWORTH: I don’t see your point.
BANES: well you know poetry its so good at being sucint. thats why its so popular right. i mean those who still read poetry want concise
WORDSWORTH: My poem is under 200 words. That is not long.
BANES: its all relative
BANES: what is that poem about the subway and petals on a wet black bough so good can you do more like that
WORDSWORTH: If you’re asking me to plagiarize Ezra Pound, no. If you want me to adapt my style to imitate him, hell no.
BANES: no nothing like that just concise
BANES: like that first stanza maybe get that across in one line
BANES: get to the point faster
WORDSWORTH: Oh, I see. So I could get the entire poem down to the size of a tweet.
WORDSWORTH: I was being sarcastic.
BANES: no need for that i am trying to help
WORDSWORTH: Every word in every line is essential or I would have removed it already. That’s what makes me a poet.
BANES: you need to adapt
BANES: modern readers = shorter attetnion span
BANES: no time for flourishes etc
WORDSWORTH: Well then just call me a pagan suckled in a creed outworn.
BANES: what are u talking about
WORDSWORTH: I gather you’re unfamiliar with my earlier works.
BANES: really what are you talking about and never mind your earlier works
BANES: you have currency now so lets leverage that
WORDSWORTH: I assume you’re referring to Taylor Swift name-dropping me in her song, literally one line after decrying “some namedropping sleaze,” ironically enough.
BANES: taylor swift yes exactly
BANES: we need to get on that
WORDSWORTH: I won’t disgrace myself by pandering to pop culture.
BANES: i'm trying to help you here. u want to be replaced by A.I.?
WORDSWORTH: If you think ChatGPT can write poetry, you’re delusional.
BANES: look, you know why coleridges poems are so successful? He’s writing about big-screen TVs, pleasure domes, and opium trips. your writing about dancing flowers
WORDSWORTH: Have you even read my poem?
BANES: in fact i found some errors
BANES: like, i'm sure you saw lots of flowers but not continuous, not 10K
BANES: and lakes dont have waves
WORDSWORTH: Actually, Windermere lake is the largest in England and does have waves. As usual you have no idea what you’re talking about.
BANES: look work with me here you have some good stuff here, lonely = emo can resonate with readers
BANES: just tigten up a bit and we’re good
BANES: and doesnt matter what lake, actually not saying which lake is better
BANES: in fact i wanted to ask you
BANES: poetry now needs to be hyper local
BANES: i'm thinking different versions of poem by region
BANES: can we do one for CA and change from daffodil to poppy (state flower
WORDSWORTH: I am not a staff writer for a tourism board. And I’m not rewriting the final rhyming couplet to support “poppies.”
BANES: about that rhyming
BANES: kind of passe
WORDSWORTH: Taylor Swift uses rhyme.
BANES: but getting back to the number of flowers
BANES: never ending line & 10K, nobody is buying that
WORDSWORTH: I’m employing a standard poetic device called hyperbole. I guess they didn’t teach you that in business school.
BANES: why cant you just be more precise
WORDSWORTH: Are you my editor or my fact-checker?
BANES: readers dont want to be decieved
WORDSWORTH: Are you going to revoke my poetic license?
BANES: look maybe i dont have a fancy degree from Oxford but i know my stuff
WORDSWORTH: My degree is from Cambridge.
BANES: look there is an incosistency in the poem you start with lonely & brooding and then later your all talking about bliss of solitude
BANES: not as strong as other parts need to tighten up
WORDSWORTH: This just demonstrates how completely you have missed the point. “That inward eye which is the bliss of solitude” is exactly what this supposed audience of modern readers has lost, due to the constant intrusion of Twitter, Snapchat, and the never-ending smartphone “feed.” There is no more bliss because there is no more solitude. And nobody can just enjoy their natural surroundings without stopping to snap photos and share them on Instagram.
BANES: nobody says instnagram anymore its insta
WORDSWORTH: You know what? We’re done here. You can take our contract and shove it. I’ll just put my poem on my blog.
BANES: actually i wanted to talk to you about that
BANES: its time to monetize your blog
BANES: adsense can make us some money if we get the seo right
BANES: untapped potential there
BANES: you already did the work
BANES: dont you want to get paid
BANES: hey are you still there