Daily Archives: 1 November 2022

November Verse 1: On quitting Twitter

For the thirteenth year in a row, I’m setting out to write 14 fourteen-line poems in November. I intend to write mostly Onegin stanzas*, and at least some of them will relate to the news of the day. As always the aim is quantity, and quality if possible.

So here goes with Verse Nº 1, hoping I don’t lose too many readers who might otherwise have been referred here by Twitter:

On quitting Twitter
I'll miss the cats and fancy dances,
Dreyer's copy-ed decrees,
First Nations chat – what are the chances
I'll find another path to these?
I'll miss the links to weighty writing,
jokes and spleen and humble-skiting,
praise apportioned, insults hurled.
I've closed my window on that world.

Thank Musk, speech freedom absolutist.
No longer am I like a chook
transfixed by python's stony look,
a string to algorithm's lutist.
Come on out, the real world's fine.
My idle moments now are mine.

For those who don’t know:

  • Benjamin Dreyer is chief copy-editor at Random House in New York, author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to English and Style, passionate advocate of the Oxford comma and endlessly amusing tweeter
  • Indigenous X is, or was until recent attacks led them to hit pause, a rotating Twitter account founded by Luke Pearson and hosted by a different First Nations person each week

* The Onegin stanza was probably invented by Alexander Pushkin and features in his verse novel Eugene Onegin. I first encountered it, and fell into its thrall, in Vikram Seth’s verse novel The Golden Gate. It consists of 14 lines of iambic tetrameter (meaning that each line has four beats, or four feet, of two syllables each) with the rhyme scheme aBaB ccDD eFF eGG, where the lowercase letters represent rhymes where the stress falls on the second-last syllable, and the uppercase represent rhymes where the stress falls on the last syllable.