An anagram
by Mike Keith, 2001



This is an example of a serious case of "piling on constraints".  The first poem below, the starting point for the anagram, is Vocalisations by Georges Perec, which is found in his E-less novel La disparition.  Already, before we do anything, this is unusual, as it is a paraphrase of Arthur Rimbaud's poem Voyelles (whose subject is the five vowels) but done without using the letter E.  (Note Perec's neat use of the constraint, in not only eliminating the letter E, but also eliding the parts of Rimbaud's poem that talk about the letter E.)

The second poem below is our anagram of Vocalisations, which not only has to deal with a very unusual letter distribution (coming from E-less French), but also tries to translate (at least approximately) the poem into English.  The rhyme scheme of the original is also preserved, but (something has to give, right?) not the meter.


[Vocalisations, by Georges Perec]

A noir, (Un blanc), I roux, U safran, O azur:
Nous saurons au jour dit ta vocalisation:
A, noir carcan poilu d'un scintillant morpion
Qui bominait autour d'un nidoral impur,

Caps obscurs; qui, cristal du brouillard ou du Khan,
Harpons du fjord hautain, Rois Blancs, frissons d'anis?
I, carmins, sang vomi, riant ainsi qu'un lis
Dan un courroux ou dans un alcool mortifiant;

U, scintillations, rond divins du flot marin,
Paix du pātis tissu d'animaux, paix du fin
Sillon qu'un fol savoir aux grands fronts imprima;

O, finitif clairon aux accords d'aiguisoir,
Soupirs ahurissant Nadir ou Nirvāna:
O l'omicron, rayon violin dan son Voir!

[Vocalisations, anagrammed by Mike Keith]

A void, (missing vocalic), I pain-color, U rococo, O plaid:
All adjoin in a rich Latin unit, a curious mix of sound:
"A" is a noxious squid, that squirms on toxic ground,
Scurrilous and full of animal vapors bad,

In ruin hid. Did Attila's raucous invasion
Ruin a sumptuous land for us, O Russian cur?
"I": in crimson blood, spit on fox's fur,
In an anxious fit of liquor-drunk libation;

"U": auras, vibrations, in murmurs of an Asian rain,
Unicorns and carnival animals born on a Druid plain,
To rush in unison around Uranus;

"O": round as God's Last Trump. Mind sprain,
Quiz, paradox's crux (incur Joy or Pain?),
Rotund Initial, Final Avatar, Last Curtain.