Mike Keith

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Original text in yellow, anagram in pink.

Hamlet, act V scene 1 is one of the few times in all of Shakespeare where he invokes "the Scripture", here mentioning the story of Adam in Genesis. Which suggested the idea of an anagram in the style of Genesis One...

ACT V. Scene I.
Elsinore. A churchyard.

Enter two Clowns, [with spades and pickaxes].

Clown. Is she to be buried in Christian burial when she wilfully
seeks her own salvation?
Other. I tell thee she is; therefore make her grave straight.
The crowner hath sate on her, and finds it Christian burial.
Clown. How can that be, unless she drown'd herself in her own
Other. Why, 'tis found so.
Clown. It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies
the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an
act hath three branches-it is to act, to do, and to perform;
argal, she drown'd herself wittingly.
Other. Nay, but hear you, Goodman Delver!
Clown. Give me leave. Here lies the water; good. Here stands the
man; good. If the man go to this water and drown himself, it is,
will he nill he, he goes- mark you that. But if the water come to
him and drown him, he drowns not himself. Argal, he that is not
guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
Other. But is this law?
Clown. Ay, marry, is't- crowner's quest law.
Other. Will you ha' the truth an't? If this had not been a
gentlewoman, she should have been buried out o' Christian burial.
Clown. Why, there thou say'st! And the more pity that great folk
should have count'nance in this world to drown or hang themselves
more than their even-Christen. Come, my spade! There is no
ancient gentlemen but gard'ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They
hold up Adam's profession.
Other. Was he a gentleman?
Clown. 'A was the first that ever bore arms.
Other. Why, he had none.
Clown. What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture?
The Scripture says Adam digg'd. Could he dig without arms? I'll
put another question to thee. If thou answerest me not to the
purpose, confess thyself-
Other. Go to!
Clown. What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the
shipwright, or the carpenter?
Other. The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand
Clown. I like thy wit well, in good faith. The gallows does well.
But how does it well? It does well to those that do ill. Now,
thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the
church. Argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To't again, come!
Other. Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a
Clown. Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
Other. Marry, now I can tell!
Clown. To't.
Other. Mass, I cannot tell.

Enter Hamlet and Horatio afar off.

Clown. Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will
not mend his pace with beating; and when you are ask'd this
question next, say 'a grave-maker.' The houses he makes lasts
till doomsday. Go, get thee to Yaughan; fetch me a stoup of
[Exit Second Clown.]

[Clown digs and] sings.

In youth when I did love, did love,
Methought it was very sweet;
To contract- O- the time for- a- my behove,
O, methought there- a- was nothing- a- meet.

Ham. Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at
Hor. Custom hath made it in him a Property of easiness.
Ham. 'Tis e'en so. The hand of little employment hath the daintier

Clown. (sings)
But age with his stealing steps
Hath clawed me in his clutch,
And hath shipped me intil the land,
As if I had never been such.

Genesis of the Theatre
(King William Version)

In the beginning Mount Olympus hatched the actors and the theatre.

But the theatre was without much humour, and monotonous,
with Greek Choruses answering on the wings of the Athens stage.
After a time, a Bard appeared over the grim footlights.

And Will said, Let there be mirth, and there was mirth.

And Will saw that mirth was fit and well;
so he split the whole canon into the mirth and the sadness.

And Will called the mirth Comedy, and the other heavy thoughts
he labelled Tragedy. And the entrances and the exits were the First Act.

And Will said, But let there be some thoughtful quiet
in the centre of the noisy action, and let it cleave
the prior acts from the latter ones.

So Will's curious innovation grew in the theatre;
and lo, he saw that it was worthwhile.

And he called his phenomenon The Interval.
And the entrances and the exits were the Second Act.

And Will said: Let the folk be put together in one holy place,
with rows of low cushions to lounge on as the action is shown: and it was so.

And The Bard dubbed his summer place The Globe, and the
subsequent grouping of paying humans he wittily called The Critics:
and lo, it was most worthwhile.

And Will spoke: Let all young folk who are gay come forth to act on the stage,
to sew the gowns and costumes, and to work with cosmetics: and it was so.

And the gay folk came forth to act on the stage, to sew the gowns and costumes,
and to work with cosmetics: and lo, their agents saw that it was worthwhile.

And the prologues and the epilogues were the Third Act.

And Will said, Let all the theatres in the city be of two sorts,
according to the chosen will of the people; and let these be shrines
to their mythology, misogyny, matrimony, and melancholy,

And the vanquishing of man's shortcomings
through the power of visible art: and lo, it was so.

Thus The Bard wrought two places for the usually humorous shows:
The West End for the unsavoury tourist, and The Fringe
for savvy men and women with high thoughts.
And, anachronistically, he made The Telly also.

And the Bard established them there, along with the occasional comic book,
for the fascination of old philosophers and the interior entertainment of the soul;

To own the world, and rule over the unwashed masses
who prefer whiskey over Hamlet: and lo, he saw that it was worthwhile.

And the comings and the goings were the Fourth Act.

Hence the works of Will Shakespeare begat all manner of unique visions:
the plays of famous authors such as Beaumont, Fletcher, Congreve, Wycherley,
Marlowe, Mortimer, Shirley, Galsworthy, and the notorious Anonymous;
variations which ultimately lead to numerous harsher things, such as:

The horrible British University Varsity Revue,
a film heroine called Hermione Granger,
the laboured modernism of Stephen Fry,
and the nearly inharmonic music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Pondering this, The Bard saith: Right, that's enough.
That last one is overly shrill, inherently senseless, and a right wanker.
Forsooth, it is no longer worthwhile!

There is no Fifth Act. Exeunt omnes.

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I recently discovered a recording of Sylvia Plath reading several of her poems, and so thought I would try to anagram one of the poems with the additional constraint that I could construct a fake recording of "her" reading the anagram by piecing together bits from the existing recording of her. The fake anagram reading is *not* an exact rearrangement of the audio samples in the recording of "November Graveyard". (That might ultimately be possible, but would probably require a custom recording of the original, and maybe even a custom original text, to be successful.) Even without that constraint this was a hard challenge, as evidenced by the fact that, while most of "December Shrine" sounds fairly acceptable, several lines are rather choppy.

November Graveyard

The scene stands stubborn: skinflint trees
Hoard last leaves, won't mourn, wear sackcloth, or turn
To elegiac dryads, and dour grass
Guards the heard-hearted emerald of its grassiness
However the grandiloquent mind may scorn
Such poverty. So no dead men's voices

Flower forget-me-nots between the stones
Paving this grave ground. Here's honest rot
To unpick the elaborate heart, pare bone
Free of the fictive vein. When one stark skeleton
Bulks real, all saint's tongues fall quiet:
Flies watch no resurrections in the sun.

At the essential landscape stare, stare
Till your eyes foist a vision dazzling on the wind:
Whatever lost ghosts flare,
Damned, howling in their shrouds across the moor
Rave on the leash of the starving mind
Which peoples the bare room, the blank, untenanted air.

December Shrine

The dark falls floridly: colors
Dazzle vision, streak over granite boulders, or stand
Over iron angels, while an unseen grayness
Moves and turns through a spotless stellar space,
Where the metaphysical soul might
Squander better revelation. Another year's

Worthless harvest stands over him.
Those blue waves, by the orange and fuchsia
Patchwork of leaves, should have known better.
These eccentric stones,
Worth less than the earth, stand in the forest -
Divine language of a lost otherworld.

At the outermost fringe of mundane vision, see
The dreaming skull, see the fading apparition:
The rotten queen, in tarnished modes, maundering
Among the wastes, entirely sacrosanct, drowsed stoneward,
Forever drinking to the point of blackness,
Obstinate voice of that burning carrousel.

Listen to Sylvia Plath reading "November Graveyard" (MP3, 137KB)

Listen to Virtual Sylvia reading "December Shrine" (MP3, 116KB)

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Paul Erdos (who I had the pleasure of meeting once) liked to talk about The Book, an imaginary tome containing "perfect" proofs of various mathematical theorems.

One proof which would certainly be in The Book is also probably the oldest Book proof:
Euclid's argument that there are an infinite number of primes, contained in volume IX of the Elements.

Edna St. Vincent Millay's famous poem on Euclid is anagrammed below into some thoughts on Euclid's proof. In addition, embedded in the anagram is a numeric fraction which hints at this result by explicitly revealing a long sequence of prime numbers.

To see this, take the first word of each line in the anagram, compute its letter sum, and retain the final digit. So EUCLID is 54 (take the 4), ARRESTS is 100 (which gives 0), and so on. This produces the sequence 4 0 9 9 2 0 0 0 4 1 for the first stanza and 9 9 9 7 0 0 0 2 9 9 9 9 for the second. Squish each sequence together, giving the numbers 4099200041 and 999700029999.

Divide the first stanza's number by the second (4099200041/999700029999) and compute the value of this fraction, whose infinite decimal expansion begins


Divide this into groups of 4:

0041 0043 0047 0053 0061 0071 0083 0097 0113 0131 0151 0173 0197 0223 0251 0281 0313 0347 0383

and remove leading zeros in each group:

41 43 47 53 61 71 83 97 113 131 151 173 197 223 251 281 313 347 383

Every one of these integers is a prime number (and the sequence continues with more primes: 421, 461, 503, 547, 593, etc).

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.

Euclid gazed at Virtue vague, now
  arrests all who babble of ideals
  and honor; they lie prostrate
 on a ledge in humble abandon.
 Unlike any before, he drew a
  line to infinity, a path ahead in the
  void: a euphonous essay on the
  unattainable. (One by one we
 subtract them, when old or in their

 See here the flash of a holy
  candle, lead a song to enumeration:
 Days of endless sights
  by Athens' heights,
  speeches also to
  honor him. Euclid alone
 bore fruit so true:
 Go then on the chosen path,
 View the rank and file of
  mortal history: thoughts
 nestled here at the Golden Key, by
 Rationals Way.

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Updated: May 10, 2016


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