A Love poem using Python reserved words

Photo by Stanley Dai

I’ve been studying (or rather trying to study) Python for a few months now and I somehow manage to always get stuck on understanding and memorising the reserved words. I’m pretty sure this is useless knowledge, but I feel like if I don’t have them in my head I won’t be able to make progress in understanding the language and the books I need to read.

During a long flight today I was going through Python for Informatics again and the way Kindle distributed the reserved words on the screen made it seem like a sort of weird poem. I love poems and I often write a few, so being bored in the airplane I decided to give myself a challenge and write something using only those reserved words.

The challenge looked like this:

- I could use one pronoun (could be an “I”, a “she” or a “he”, as long as I could remove it from the narrative in the end).

- I couldn’t repeat any of the reserved words.

- It had to make sense, but it could also explore the possibilities within each of the words.

- I could use outside words for the closure of the poem.

So I believe I got to something that’s a short love poem about someone whose partner is slowly growing apart. The subject is worried about what’s happening and trying to make sense of it all. “Lambda” is the name of the lover and they’re from a place called “Elif” (I feel like this could be a Middle Eastern city). The partner is tormented and hoping for the best, but at the end we see that our subject feels like they don’t exist anymore (that was my strategy to get rid of the pronoun).

Now on to the poem:

I continue
or else
I raise
for try.
I break.
From Elif and
not as global.
I del with
while assert.
Is Lambda
in class?
I print
for exec.
(if I except).
(I) don’t

A few things I want to point out:

Some of the words, as in any poem, have different meanings and interpretations that follow the story. For example, I like how “except” sort of sounds like “accept", and I like how “class” can be understood as any place where Lambda could be getting knowledge about the world in a way that their lover would feel intimidated for not being as global.

At the same time, like any poem, there are missing words that I believe play a great deal in maintaining the poem’s rhythm (which for me is one of the most important things when it comes to poetry). With that in mind, one of my absolute favourite quotes would be “I raise for try. Finally I break.” It shows how much our subject is struggling but feels like their efforts are putting them in so much stress and anguish that they break.

The words I had most trouble with were the ones in the last paragraph. “Print” is too hard of a word and doesn’t have any flare or magic to it, while exec by itself makes no sense. However, I tried to forget about what they really mean, so that in the narrative I feel like this paragraph shows the subject “playing” with the idea that he doesn’t exist anymore to see if he’s comfortable with it. “Print for exec” would almost mean to fish for answers, to a/b test your own emotions.

Which brings me to one of the rules I broke within my own challenge. In my guidelines it said I couldn’t use the same reserved word more than once, however, I used “for” in two lines. “I raise for try” and “I print for exec”. I tried really hard to find alternative solutions, but I think the usage of this type of construction “I raise for / I print for” reinforces a style within the poem while creating a consistent form. So the two “for” are staying, I don’t care if it means I lost the challenge. Sue me.

The poem makes me sad, because it shows how powerless we are when someone we love is going to a different direction and we’re just there watching it as the most miserable audience there ever was. But at the same time it really helped me memorize Python reserved words.