Patent Law, Bad to Verse:

Sorry for the lousy pun. Yehuda Berlinger has produced a verse translation of the entire US Patent Act. It's quite a feat -- as Dr. Johnson said of the dog playing the violin, the amazing thing is not how well it was done, but that it was done at all. Not the world's greatest poem -- personally, I hate the rhythm/rhyme scheme (which I'm sure has a name)

da DA da DA
da DA da DA
da DA da DA
da DA da DA

that gives us verses like:

A regular patent you
Filed for here
Can be filed abroad if
You wait half a year

But that's just a quibble. Patent law can use all the poetry it can get.

I guess you don't like:

"O young Lochinvar has come out of the West,/Through all the wide border his steed was the best . . . ./"

Rhyming couplets of anapestic tetrameter, with the first foot generally truncated.

Thanks! It was probably an exaggeration to say I "hate" that scheme -- but I really don't find it to be terribly interesting (and it's true, I'm not crazy about that Walter Scott poem from which you quote). As with many, many things about poetry, it's just a personal predilection of mine -- am very glad to have the label for it. DavidP
9.8.2006 9:07am
Stephen C. Carlson (www):
wm13 nails it. Anapestic tetrameter is an appropriate choice for comic verse. I wonder how it would sound if it was recomposed into something more serious, such as iambic pentameter?
9.8.2006 10:39am
Aaron Ross Powell (www):
Now into my third week as a 1L, I can say I wish more of this stuff was in verse translation.
9.8.2006 10:41am
blog fiend (mail) (www):
...if only someone would do that with the CFR.
9.8.2006 10:42am
Truth Seeker:
About 30 years ago I was taking Prof. Ronald Rotunda's Constitutional Law class and he had a rule that if you were not prepared to answer questions you must put a note on his desk before class explaining why. He would usually read these notes to the class to the embarrassment of the student who claimed to have overslept or had his mother visit.

One day after a discussion with other students of whether the trials and tribulation of law school were worth it I wrote the following poem and left it, unsigned on Rotunda's desk before class. He read it to the class but was unamused. We were studying the Gertz case that day.

Though I know that I should
And I wish that I would
Have read more of the casebook last night
I am sorry to say
That on this autumn day
I am not quite prepared to recite.

Oh, I know that its bad
And I'm really not glad
That I failed my duty today
But with famine, pollution
And the nuclear solution
Who cares what old Gertz had to say?

Let's all run through the woods
Throw away all our goods
And enjoy while the sun's still above
Because when we are dead
Who will care what we've read
Let's spend all of our time making love!
9.8.2006 12:09pm
I really should be working, but Stephen Carlson's statement reminds me of another example:

"Look at me. Look at me. Look at me now./It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how./. . . ./But the fish said, 'No, no, make that cat go away./Tell that cat in the hat you do not want to play./He should not be here. He should not be about./He should not be here while your mother is out.'"
9.8.2006 12:19pm
Mark P. (mail):
It's been a long time since 6th grade, but it looks like these are iambic couplets, with each couplet taking two lines. The rhythm is iambic (da DA), and the rhyme is a couplet which, in this case, ends up being every second line (because each couplet "line" is broken into two lines).

I think. But I was just a history major, and now I'm a lawyer.

9.8.2006 1:11pm
Vintner (mail):
Boswell, writing in his Life of Johnson: 'I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."'
9.8.2006 2:03pm
peacerebel (mail) (www):
Code it be verse?
9.8.2006 4:43pm
John Enright (mail) (www):
I would say it was technically dimeter, anapestic but with possible iambic substitutions. With a rhyme scheme of abcb, it *sounds* like anapestic tetrameter, and would look like it too if the poet ran alternating lines together like this:

A regular patent you filed for here
Can be filed abroad if you wait half a year

If you read "filed" as a 2 syllable word (a big if) then this tetrameter version can be scanned as fairly regular anapests with acephalexis on the first line:


Or, if "filed" is heard as 1 syllable, you can read it as involving iambic substitutions:


As usual, scanning results are debatable.
9.8.2006 7:52pm
Bruce Lagasse (mail):
I recall reading, many years ago, an essay by Isaac Asimov in which he claimed that any chemical named in accordance with the standard protocols for organic compounds could be sung to the tune of The Irish Washerwoman (dactylic tetrameter?). The example he gave (IIRC) was para-dichloro-amino-benzaldehyde.
9.9.2006 12:02am
A mosquito once cried out in pain
"A chemist has poisoned my brain!"
The cause of his sorrow
was para-dichloro
9.9.2006 2:41am
Yehuda Berlinger (mail) (www):
"The star-bellied Sneetches
Had bellies with stars;
The plain-bellied ones
Had none upon thars."

9.11.2006 3:08am