Note on Être venu damer Icare (En)

Photograph of a palindromic sonnet — two page spread, with diecuts — in a physical book

This little work permits one and all to compose ten million palindromic sonnets, in a fashion similar to Raymond Queneau's Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes.

How does it work? To begin, there are 10 octosyllabic sonnets*, parent texts with identical rhyme schemes. The 10 line pairs occupying positions 1 & 14 are symmetrical and linkable to the 10 line pairs 2 & 13. These 100 combinations are in turn coherently linkable to the next 10 line pairs, 3 & 12; this makes 1000 different texts. Ditto for the subsequent pairs: 4 & 11 (10, 000), 5 & 10 (100,000), 6 & 9 (1 million), 7 & 8 (10 million sonnets). All of this without ever altering meter, rhyme, or palindromic spelling.

As opposed to Queneau, I allowed myself to repeat words of rhymes from one panel to the next. The severity of the palindrome as constraint rules out invariable grammatical structures. Eminently fluctuating, punctuation is left to the discretion of readers.

On the left-hand page, the 10 million palindrome paintings I have in mind, each a shadow lesson of Ad Parnassum by Paul Klee, would keep an eye on the text, bordered by a counter numbered from 0 to 9, 999, 999.

RR, August 2006