Wednesday, August 9, 2023

If William Wordsworth Were Writing Today


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.

Wordsworth’s poem

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

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. 

The dialogue

BANES: well ive 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.

BANES: exactly

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: yes

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: touche

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: whatever

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

BANES: ???

BANES: hey

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  1. Those are California poppies not daffodils, ya dooom azz!