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Variational sestinoid spiral (seed #281698895)

 

Radius: 0.00 The passing of the loveliness
Phase: 0.00
Radius: 1.25 And underneath the forest lingered away
Phase: 0.90 The passing of the dusky boughs
Radius: 2.50 The visible moon and moonlight lay
Phase: 1.80 The passing day of yester’d bough,
Of crystal moonlight lingering away
Radius: 3.75 The smallest day-wind’s cheek,
Phase: 2.69 A space of yesterday’s boughs,
Of a crystal forest lingered away
And underneath the moonlight lay
Radius: 5.00 His place is so late, and troddened,
Phase: 3.59 The light of barren’s blaze
Of a crystal moonlight still
Of crystal moonlight lay away
The solitary road and moonlight on him,
Radius: 6.25 His long-fickers of a boughs
Phase: 4.49 Of a crystal forest lingering away
Of crystal moonlight still
The mystic moonlight lay away
The solitary road and moonlight on him,
He found it up, and ’twixt anew,
Radius: 7.50 As a crystal glimmering stream
Phase: 5.39 Of crystal sunshine far away
Of crystal moonlight lay
The solitary moonlight shining down,
And leaving a week, and down a little boat,
’tis long ago and ’twixt anew.
Not a long sea-trees of the barley
Radius: 0.00 The passing of the loveliness
Phase: 0.00

Variational sestinoid spiral (seed #510616808)

 

Radius: 0.00 A thing is sweetness, sweet and light
Phase: 0.00
Radius: 1.25 A thing is sweetness, sweetest
Phase: 0.90 A thing of manly, like a cloud
Radius: 2.50 A thing is everlasting light
Phase: 1.80 A thing of earth, so far a cloud
A thing is still, as thou shalt find
Radius: 3.75 A thing of earthly blaze
Phase: 2.69 A thing of manly, as a breeze
A thing is sweet, if thou shalt behold
A thing is sweetest, sweet!
Radius: 5.00 Anon the fates of a breeze
Phase: 3.59 Without aught of man, who shalt find thee
  A thing may be, sweetness, if my heart
  A thing is sweetest, sweet!
  A bird is everlasting
 
Radius: 6.25 Without aught of him, and whirl’d
Phase: 4.49 Like goodness, if thou knowest it, and the sun
  A thing is sweet, sweetest, sweet is
  A thing is sweetness, sweet!
  A bird is everlasting
  And unto the frolic tide
 
Radius: 7.50 Like goodness, if I knowest, and a tear of
Phase: 5.39 A thing is still, sweetest, sweet, I know
  A thing is sweet, sweetness!
  A thing is sweetest light
  And o’er its waters
  And from the muteous trod
  Just as a word, and whirled in the air
 
Radius: 0.00 A thing is sweetness, sweet and light
Phase: 0.00

 

These poems (“variational sestinoid spirals”) are part of a series generated with a “variational autoencoder,” a type of machine learning model that learns to encode its inputs to a fixed-length vector in a latent space. The variational autoencoder can then generate new data that resembles its training data by selecting points at random in that latent space. (Nearby points in that space will generate similar output.) The program that produces variational sestinoid spirals first selects a point in the model’s latent space at random, and then decodes the poem’s opening line of text from that point. Subsequent stanzas are generated from points drawn in concentric circles surrounding that initial point. Each stanza's circle has one more point than the last, and its radius in latent space is correspondingly larger. The model was trained on a corpus of one million lines of public domain poetry, sourced from Project Gutenberg.



Allison is a computer programmer, poet, educator, and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet. She is an Assistant Arts Professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master's degree in 2008.
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