What distinguishes us from computer intelligence? Feeling and beauty. As proved by poetry. And as proved by hearing a machine ‘read’ a poem.
A computer reading out words with no no tone, no inflection, no feeling, may as well be reading out a shopping list. That would still sound odd to our ears, because even ‘potatoes, carrots, peas’ has a natural rhythm when read out in a list by a human.
But with a poem, where feeling and cadence are key to its beauty, a computer really can’t compare.
As you can hear for yourself here.
I was looking for the poem because I was trying to remember which one the following lines came from and didn’t have the book to hand:
How easy it would be
If love could be brought home like a lost kitten
Or gathered in like strawberries,
How lovely it would be;
What made me laugh on the site was that the comments beneath the poem included two people complaining about the grammar!
“This very lovely poem is marred twice by the same glaring grammatical error: ‘You lose your love for her and then It is her who is lost’ should read: … it is SHE who is lost.. I thought this poem too fine not to be corrected.”
And: “It needs to be ‘It is she who is lost.’ Those are the things that cause writers to lose credibility with the reader.”
I’m 100 per cent for correct grammar in non-fiction, and in stories for children (so they don’t learn bad habits) and anything where clarity is key.
But poetry is about feeling, not pronouns and participles. In this instance, ‘her’ may be the wrong grammatical case, but it’s warmer than ‘she’. As the saying goes, ‘she is the cat’s mother’.
But what made me laugh is those well-meaning people passing on the benefit of their advice to one of our great living poets. Presumably under the misapprehension Brian Patten is a novice, an amateur.
I mean, I trust (were they still alive) they wouldn’t offer grammatical advice to Byron or Shelley or Keats.
“Dear John, Your lovely poem is marred by ‘And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn’. It should be ‘bleat loudly’, and this really should be corrected if you wish to maintain credibility.”