23 July 2008

Latin pattern poem

Pattern poem, from the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, "Poeti aevii Carolini," 4.2.1115.

I've been doing a lot of research on pattern poetry, looking in particular for poems that use moving parts, and coming across some great stuff. Above is a carmen cancellatum, or a kind of mesostic -- a poem with an intext layer. These were popular in the middle ages; this one in particular is from around the 10th century. I love that the two words "IESUS CRISTUS" in the center don't form a never-ending loop, as in so many other pattern poems, but a neat little knot, each word knocking against the front and back of the other. Full-stop, proceed no further.

I'm trying to track down more information on this poem, but it's slim pickins. In addition to the mesostic that snakes through the otherwise left-right, up-down text, there's two different fonts used, one sanserif, the other not. Looks like the sanserif is for the inlaid text, except for a few spots, such as the lower left and lower right squares. In addition, most of the text is in capitals, except for some parts of the squares, and the right side of the poem, which begins to disintegrate into lower-case letters and interpuncts.

Granted, I've only spent twenty minutes with this poem, but I can't find the pattern in this so-called pattern poem, assuming one exists. Tips and literature are, as always, welcome.

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