Preamble the churl’s banshee

One form of creativity-through-constraint practised by Jean Lescure and Raymond Queneau and those French writers who in the 1960s styled themselves Oulipians (‘Oulipo’ comes from ‘Ouvroir de littérature potentielle’, or ‘workshop of potential literature’) was a form of translation by counting forward. Here is a quick experiment with this via the n+2 machine. Putting a poem through the n+2 machine means that every time we reach a noun in our master text, we look that word up in the dictionary, count forward two nouns, and replace the old word with the new. I’ve chosen George Herbert’s ‘Prayer’, printed in

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