Found Poetry from a Korean Patent

In my earlier years, I used to get a kick from “found poetry” – prose from mundane sources like instruction manuals not meant to be particularly literary which sometimes accidentally conveys poetic content. Here is one candidate I just ran into. It comes from the abstract of Korean patent (KR20050079263A) that I found today using a professional patent search tool for my day job. This is the abstract they provided, which was translated with the help of a machine. I’ve reformatted it slightly, added italics in two places and left out a few parts, including four words that could not be translated.

Read this out loud, softly, in candle light. It’s hard to find poetry more moving than this – and it was created by accident.

Chinese medicine herb medicine remanufactures (the ginseng, the sugar ear and the calamus, the territory, the ramie)

The invention which it sees
as regarding the hair cosmetics composition
to the place where it recovers the hair
which is damaged the plow and tree,
the distant, the various branch
compounding effect of Fiji control,
the clause germ and the clause sal back the hair
cosmetics of necessary one existing most like this . . .

it cannot be satisfied
it could not on a large scale
the place where it improves two blood.

The invention which it sees
the extract to the back which is a pin,
a propylene writing call and a vegetability pro reel
and the reel Oh the mountain
cetane will come. . . .

The interface activator and the floating green onion
Chinese medicine herb medicine remanufacture
(the ginseng, the sugar ear and the calamus, the territory, the ramie)
it contains it manufactures
with in two blood and the hair line promotion,
dandruff removal, the plow and tree
to bring the distant effective back,
when specially applying in two blood
which feel a hair cosmetics use hour stimulus,
the maximum it relaxes the magnetic pole. . . .

The dry hair which splits well, and shampoo hour
the keratin happens easily
and only Chinese medicine herb medicine remanufacture
being unique in the hair where the dandruff gets,
the nutrition which is abundant about under giving
in order it is moist healthy and to give
with one head wave splashing over splashing over,
it is one thing.

A reminder that poetry can happen by accident, as can, for example, chiasmus (a topic of interest to Book of Mormon fans). But the link between meaning and poetical devices in random poetry often leaves much to be desired, in contrast to what has been crafted deliberately, by the hand of an artist. Given that, I still really like this Korean machine-assisted poem, especially the closing lines and the part about the floating green onion. What dreams I will have tonight!

With one head wave splashing over splashing over,
it is one thing.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

12 thoughts on “Found Poetry from a Korean Patent

  1. OOoooookaaaaay


    Try to rest this weekend… and whatever you do, do not think about a floating green onion.

  2. Ah yes, one of the joys of missionary like if Korea was the constant parade of bad English. With Anglicized phrases on everything from stationery to T shirts to backpacks, statements like “let’s sports” and “be the reds” really take me back.

  3. I thought this was fantastic–it reminded me of Walt Whitman. I’m passing it around to the entire English faculty at BYU-I.

  4. I didn’t feel that the original was “making fun” of Asians–

    I thought it was kind of lovely in its own way–

    but the comments it invited were a bit disappointing–

    as a speaker of an Asian language and a returned missionary from Asia–

    I am really, really glad they didn’t “make fun” of my English-accented, poorly constructed missionary attempts at speaking their highly sophisticated language–

    they could have, you know, but they didn’t.

    That is, I have found, the difference between our culture and theirs.

    If theirs is superior, they don’t try to convince us of it by making fun of ours–

  5. Anon 1:35

    Can’t anything just be fun anymore? Are we suppose to all lose our ability to laugh with and yes, at ourselves and others in a lighthearted manner. There is nothing offensive in any of the above comments.

    Besides, the Jeff’s post was more chuckling at the MACHINE that did the translation… not the Koreans.

    My bet is the Koreans would laugh a little at the translation too.

  6. My favorite translation came from an Italian hair spray can with translated English directions on it:

    “Point bomb towards head and vaporize.”

    It still makes me chuckle.

  7. Right, it’s the machine that makes this ridiculous. The original Korean is undoubtedly logical and intelligent – Korea has a lot of great technology and excellent patent lawyers. But anyone who has toyed with machine translation, especially between English and Asian languages, knows how poorly the machines fare.

    If any machines are reading this, I apologize if you think I’m making fun of you. Actually, I’m celebrating the beauty that you created. It’s enough to make my head wave splashing over as the floating green onion embarks the effective vegetability pro-reel. It is, after all, one thing.

  8. point well taken–

    I did get the “point” of the “poem”–

    I understand laughing at a machine, and, yes, even at anything funny–as long as we can laugh at ourselves as much as at others–

    I guess I just don’t like ethnocentricity–

    and when I see it I cringe–

    if none was intended, mea culpa–

    –the person who got touchy–

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