At 03:56 PM 2/7/2005, Michael wrote:
>I think we ought sometimes to admit that we're beaten....

Agreed: yet I don't personally feel devastated when we discover that the
fundamental principles of markup technologies and of poetry might sometimes
be at odds. Markup works by abstracting and explicating extra-textual
features as inline textual representations by observing a distinction
between "form" and "content"; poetry at least sometimes insists on the
impossibility of this distinction, and always plays around with it.

Such "defeats" are victories for poetry, aren't they?

No doubt in Athens in the fifth century BCE, writing was decried for the
same reasons. "Take our beautiful poems and reduce them to an alphabet? How
ridiculous!" Yes, the old man had a point.

As for the encoding question, one can only return to requirements. What do
you want to *do* with this encoded text? On the rendering side, these days
one could certainly implement whatever types of lg or div one wanted to be
rendered especially, with whatever line indents were called for. This ought
to be enough for Horatian odes, even if "Intimations of Immortality" or
Coleridge's "Dejection" are still left hanging....

As for the theoretical point -- as MB says, what are the semantics of the
verse layout? -- I'm afraid only madness and frustration awaits those who
expect that such semantics have been comprehensively specified, to be
looked up in some authoritative reference. It is the business of poets to
throw away the rules and reinvent poetry. The entire time, they have been
trying the patience of their editors and printers, and they will
undoubtedly persist in this.

(Herbert's printer: "*Sideways*?!?")


Wendell Piez                            mailto:[log in to unmask]
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