Two slices of pi

My favorite sonnet by Shakespeare does not appear in collections of his sonnets. Rather, it is embedded in a the dialog of Act 1, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet. Here are the fourteen lines of dialog between the two young lovers, leading up to their first ever kiss:

Romeo: If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this,
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
Juliet: Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this:
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Romeo: Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Juliet: Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in pray’r.
Romeo: O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do,
They pray—grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Juliet: Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Romeo: Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.

I love the fact that this perfectly rhymed and brilliantly metered Shakespearean sonnet appears as the back-and-forth of two teen lovers. As though they just happened to say these precise words while flirting with each other.

In a somewhat geeky parallel, it would be great to see something similar done with the digits of pi, with one modification: Rather than being an artful construct created by a master playwright, it would be a real back-and-forth, perhaps an email conversation between two real people.

Each person, in their turn, would continue the dialog using as many or as few words as they’d like, with the one constraint that the letter count of each successive word in the conversation would need to equal the corresponding digit of pi.

I wonder how such a discussion, constrained as it would be in word choice, would compare to a non-piemic conversation.

Perhaps it would be better.

2 Responses to “Two slices of pi”

  1. A few days ago (intending to use it for work) I wrote a program that uses word2vec (a way of changing words into vectors in such a way that nearby vectors are similar in meaning) to turn a word into a paraphrase consisting of an adjective and a noun. At first I just chose the most common nouns and adjectives, and got some fun results:
    maple syrup: vegetable honey
    adolescence: adult childhood
    skyscraper: downtown tower

    Then I realized that I could put any constraints I wanted. So I tried only allowing it to use words starting with the letter A. Here are a few it came up with:

    birdhouse: aviary architecture
    robot: anthropomorphic automaton
    division: antagonistic arithmetic
    chemistry: academic alchemy
    chemists: atomic apothecaries
    island: aquatic archipelago

    It wouldn’t be hard to modify it to come up with rhymes, or words fitting a particular meter, or words only containing the vowel e, etc…

  2. Stephan Ahonen says:

    THAT. IS. AWESOME. You have to make some piems with it!

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