A Poem That Reads Differently Forwards and Backwards - Ooh, Interesting! Fascinating Facts

March 09, 2018


We hear in Sternberg Clarke Towers (think of the Walkie Talkie building but slightly smaller) love poetry. We have a number of poets on our books but up until now, we haven’t ever read a poem that reads completely differently forwards and backwards. Intrigued? Read on.
 
Poems at events aren’t the most common form of entertainment that you’ll find, but they are an excellent choice if you’re looking for something a little more unique and unusual. From Judge the Poet, who will ping back a poem featuring your chosen words in less time that in took you to think them up, through to Poet for Hire who will craft something wonderfully irreverent from their charming stall, there really is something for everyone.
 
That brings us to today’s fascinating fact, which also happens to concern poetry. The Lost Generation was written by Jonathan Reed for a competition wherein contestants were asked to describe their vision of the future. His marvellously inventive poem was awarded second place and quickly went viral. Why? Because if you read the poem one way, it is a deeply cynical piece that advertises a future world as being somewhere that nobody would like to live. However, if you exclude the last line and read it backwards, the reverse is true and optimism wins through. We’ve posted the poem below (both forwards and backwards to make it easier for you to read) and hope you enjoy it!
 
I am part of a lost generation.
And I refuse to believe that
I can change the world.
I realize this may be a shock, but
“Happiness comes from within”
Is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy”
So in thirty years, I will tell my children
They are not the most important thing in my life.
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
Work
Is more important than
Family
I tell you this:
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
But this will not be true in my era.
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
Thirty years from now, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my divorce.
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making.
In the future,
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.
And all of this will come true unless we choose reverse it.
 
Now let’s go the other way…
 
There is hope.
It is foolish to presume that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It will be evident that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
No longer can it be said that
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
In the future,
I will live in a country of my own making.
I do not concede that
Thirty years from now, I will be celebrating the tenth anniversary of my divorce.
Experts tell me
This is a quick fix society
But this will not be true in my era.
Families stayed together
Once upon a time
I'll tell you this:
Family
Is more important than
Work
I have my priorities straight because
My employer will know that
They are not the most important thing in my life.
So in thirty years, I will tell my children
“Money will make me happy”
Is a lie, and
“True Happiness comes from within”
I realize this may be a shock, but
I can change the world.
And I refuse to believe that
I am part of a lost generation.
 
Incidentally, Reed has spoken about his poem since it went viral and noted that it is inspired by a similar work, ‘The Truth’ by RECREAR, which utilises the same vice-versa approach. If you're looking to have a go at writing something similar, there is actually a useful pattern that you can follow:
 
Negative statement

Negation of

Positive statement

Confirmation of

Negative statement
 
Etc.
 
We doubt it's as easy as we just made it sound but you're more than welcome to have a go!
 

  

 




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By Henry Fosdike