Infinite verse

Infinite poems after Charles Dickens


Infinite verse is an (effectively) infinite series of poems derived from the complete novels of Charles Dickens.

Two source texts (e.g. Great Expectations and Hard Times) are selected according to various parameters relating to the current date and time of your browser. The first is used to randomly select four consecutive words to serve as the “pattern”. This pattern becomes the first line of the poem and is used to generate all of the following lines by querying the second source text: pairs of letters from the pattern are used to search for the first instance within the source text with two consecutive words beginning with each letter of the pair. For example, the pair “sh” in the word “should” might return a match like “still hugging”. Only consecutive words of at least four letters each are considered. After a match is found, all instances of it are removed from the source text and the next pair of letters in the pattern is used to search for a new match, beginning from the position of the last match. Once the search reaches the end of the source text, it begins again from the beginning, and continues until no more matches for a given pair of letters in the pattern may be found in the source text. At this point, the search ends.

The layout of the final poem relates to “cycles” of the pattern. The starting letters of each word in a line correspond to the letters of a word in the pattern – thus, the number of words in a line corresponds to the number of letters in the word of the pattern that generated it. A cycle is a four-line unit containting all of the letters of the pattern as starting letters. If the poem ended in the middle of a cycle, then it is trimmed back to the end of the last complete cycle. Finally, the lines are randomly grooped into variously-lengthed stanzas, which have no correlation with the underlying four-line cylce structure.