An Autological Adventure

Alliterative assonances aptly audiate
Obscurities of one weakness.
When one obliteratingly obsesses over
obsequious observations – one obliviates.
Odysseys honour hour’s appeals,
Uncovering united euphonies:
eureka-worthy, enshrouded, eye-catching.
Ice-cold eyes expect heirlooms,
However, hampers hide hot jalapenos.

Jittery jocund jointed
Gems’ graph gnarls,
Nasty knots kempt;
Qiana-like constellations,
Centerless cycles spiraling slowly.

Sounds satiate psyche:
perpetuating phrased forms,
Forced physically, perimetering
penta-peninsular pangeas.


An Autological Adventure - Aryan Tiwari
United Euphonies

For an enlarged and interactive version of this map click the map or click here.

To know more about United Euphonies click here.

Truth be told, this poem was written with the intention of being a poem for poets; though with the explanation ahead, I think everyone can read and understand this poem. So, enjoy!


The Title

Autological is something which describes itself. In this autological poem, I explore my journey of discovering this network of letters and it’s features while using the same graph to structure the form.

In a nutshell, the graph or map connects letters based on sounds that they produce at the start of words. As I like to call it: Alliterative Assonances.

Let’s break that down into Alliteration and Assonance.
Alliteration is when a group of two or more words start with the same letter. For example: Tasty tarts. Although, the words might be separated by a few words in between, like “Tasty looking tarts” but I think the former has more impact as it’s pure alliteration.
Assonance is when a group of words have the same sound repeated anywhere in those words.
For example:
“on a proud round cloud in white high night” — E. E. Cummings, if a cheerfulest Elephantangelchild should sit

Assonance can be repetition of both vowels and consonants, but generally the term consonance is used when consonants are assonated.

Alliteration without assonance: One obsession
Assonance without alliteration: Simple Psychology

Thus, alliterative assonance is when both alliteration and assonance occur simultaneously or in consecution.

The form of this poem is defined by alliterative assonance. My only restriction or challenge was to write a full poem only using alliterative assonance. This poem, while using alliterative assonance, also describes my journey of making and publishing this graph – making it autological.


Spoiler Alert: Explanation Ahead

Enough for justifying the title, let’s dive into the actual poem now!

Alliterative assonances aptly audiate
Obscurities of one weakness
.”

Unlike other languages like Hindi, English has silent letters and weird pronunciations, making alliterative assonance possible in the first place. Thus, this poem starts by making it clear that an “obscurity” of English has been exploited or audiated here. Also, the poem modulates from an ‘A’ to an ‘O’ (transition word: audiate); and then to a ‘W’ (through ‘one’) – now notice all the transitions throughout the poem.

When one obliteratingly obsesses over
obsequious observations – one obliviates.


It took me many days to hunt down all the connections between the words. I was obsessed and engrossed, and obliviated into the word of vocabulary and language.

Odysseys honour hour’s appeals,
Uncovering united euphonies:
eureka-worthy, enshrouded, eye-catching.


It was an odyssey of sorts – an adventure: finding new words and connecting letters. The “hour’s appeal” was to compile a complete map and the odyssey honoured it (personification) by exploring English. “United euphonies” is synonymous to alliterative assonance, the only difference being that the former is not autological. To me, uncovering these united euphonies was a eureka moment, and then visualising the enshrouded (hidden) was eye-catching and really satisfying.

Ice-cold eyes expect heirlooms,
However, hampers hide hot jalapenos.


Maybe I was just too ambitious, but I imagined that all letters would be connected to each other in some way or another. But here as well English showcased it’s anomalous weirdness and I ended up with five distinct islands. So, when I was expecting some “heirloom” (perfect connection) I got “hot jalapenos” (surprise, disappointment or shock).

Also, if you look carefully, jalapeno is a word with Spanish origins that was ‘adopted’ by English speakers. There are many such borrowed words in English, but I tried to exclude the more recent additions (like jalapeno) from the original map. But in the poem I have used that word in order to transition into a new island.

The whole of the first stanza uses only the “island of vowels”. The only possible connection from the vowel island to the consonant island was through the word jalapeno.

To recap: in the first stanza, I describe (using only the vowel island) how I came across this idea of combining alliteration and assonance and how my ambitious expectation of perfect utopia was divided into 5 islands.


Onto the second stanza!

Jittery jocund jointed
Gems’ graph gnarls,


Here I have described the actual interactive graph on my site. When it first loads, it’s all jittery before settling down.
Jittery: “shaking and slightly uncontrolled”
Jocund: “cheerful”
Jointed: describes the fact that many letters are jointed to one another

I use the word “gem” to allude to the dots representing the letters on the graph, as they look like colourful jewels jointed in a necklace of sorts. “Gems’ graph” means the graph of the gems. Gnarl is a rough, knotty protuberance, here, meaning that the graph tangles and floats around.

Nasty knots kempt;
Qiana-like constellations,

Centerless cycles spiraling slowly.

But the gnarled graph slowly untangles as the “nasty knots kempt” (kempt means to tidy something up)
Then I compare the graph to a silky constellation, thus, alluding the letters to stars.

“Spiraling slowly” refers to how the graph keeps floating around on the screen.
“Centerless cycles” : On careful observation one can see that the island of vowels and consonants both have a loop, this is the allusion of a centerless cycle.


The loop in the vowel island: “A-O-W-H-E-U-A”
The loop in the consonants: “N-K-Q-C-S-T-P-N”

To recap the second stanza: here I describe the graph visible on the site and use various metaphors to describe it further.


Onto the third stanza!

Sounds satiate psyche:
perpetuating phrased forms,


Even though my expectations of getting a perfect graph never came to completion, the sounds of these united euphonies are more than satisfying.
These united euphonies keep “perpetuating” (reiterating) a “phrased” (crafted) form: alliterative assonance.

Forced physically, perimetering
penta-peninsular pangeas.


The words in this poem feel forced and forcefully placed to comply with the form and allow the exploration of the five islands. By doing so, one is able to perimeter (encircle, explore) the “penta-peninsular” (consisting of 5 islands) “pangea” (a united world).

To recap: the third stanza describes the poem itself, as a whole – how it satiates obsequious convention and follows the form for the sake of exploration. This adds a new layer of autological didacticism to the poem.


An overview

From first coming across the idea of alliterative assonance, to realising it into a visual graph and writing a poem, the poem has three layers of autological meaning. Even in between stanzas the form has been followed. In the poem i explore only two of the five islands as the other islands are very small: not worth exploring and dead ends, while also the words connecting these other three islands are really unconventional (like Djembe) or non-existent (in the case of Z-X and L) in English (which is why they were separate in the first place)

A big picture of the modulations/transitions of this poem:
A-O-W-O-H-A-U-E-I-E-H-J-G-N-K-Q-C-S-P-F-P-
Can you spot em all?

I have come a long way. It took me around a few weeks for completing the abstract graph, around a month to code it in and publish it, and a week or so to write the poem. All this was distributed in the span of around eight months. Hope this poem inspires many like itself to come in the future!

Such a poem would not have been possible if English was like any normal language. Thanks for reading!


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