In which I write something again that another person named Yeats already wrote, but using only the ten hundred most used words we write with
Turning and turning in the wind that’s going around wider all the time
The flying animal that people use to catch other animals with can’t hear the person who usually tells it what to do.
Things get fucked up; the middle can’t hold;
The world is full of people who think any other people should not be able to tell them what to do,
Nothing is holding back the big body of water that is coming up and is colored a little by blood, and all over the place
The party for people who have never done anything wrong is covered by the water;
The best don’t know what to do or why they should even do anything, while the worst
Are very sure about what they are doing, and care about it a lot.
I’m sure someone is soon going to tell us something very important that we would never know if they didn’t tell us;
I’m sure the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Almost as soon are those words are out
A very, very big picture I saw in a book about the deep meaning of the world
Troubles my sight: somewhere in a place that is covered with fine bits of rock, where little rain falls,
Something with the body of a great cat and the head of a man,
And with a gaze that, just like the sun, doesn’t show any feeling and doesn’t care about people,
Is moving its slow legs, while all about it
The shadows of the pissed off flying animals from that place are moving around in a way that is hard to follow.
Then it gets dark again; but now I know
That twenty hundred years of sleep that was like the kind of sleep a rock has
Were bothered to the point of bad dreams by a baby’s rocking bed.
And what animal that is not finished yet, its hour come round at last,
Is walking in a tired way towards the town where people say the son of God was from, so that it can also be from there?
Image: Petra – Beast Rock by Flickr user Tarek published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.
This retelling of Yeats’s The Second Coming uses only the thousand most common English words, according to a list that you can find out more about by going to this website. The writing was made possible by the same website’s “Up-Goer Five Text Editor,” which word-checks on the fly and lets you know when an errant unpopular word has crept in. The ridiculous idea for doing such a thing in the first place originated (as far as I’m concerned) with Randall Munroe’s xkcd comic panel Up Goer Five, which if you haven’t heard of xkcd, now you have. I understand he has a book out, too.
I may have cheated a little bit because Yeats isn’t a word, and if it were it probably wouldn’t be one of the thousand most common words in English.
A clever exercise, but aren’t you glad we really aren’t limited to those words?
Maybe I will try writing something without using any of them…
Now that would be a trick.