Announcer: Today on National Public Radio, we'll be discussing one of the rarer gems of the poetic world, Balrog poetry and performance art. With us today are three notable specialists in this subject, [CENSORED], [BANNED], and [OUTLAWED]. But first, let's listen to the voice of famous Balrog Poet [DISAPPEARED], engaging in an expressive reading of his poem, complete with interpretative flame dance:

[Tape of Balrog Poet reading]

#)(*$)(@#$#)($*)(&$#(*#@#!)(&$_!*&#$~_^($_(~($(*~)) (*$@$#*&$!__!**&%#!$)(!$

Commentator 1: He abused the Umbra-ergative.

Commentator 2: Yes, but he's in one of the Transcendant Moods; I think the Mixopygian.

Commentator 1: The Transcendental is rarely used, except in flame wars.

Commentator 2: I think the Cappadocian would have suited better in this case; with a faint contrapuntal harmonic in the lower scale.

Commentator 1: Hmmph, human modes are too primitive!

Commentator 2: It does have vigour, though. People are much mistaken who think that *reading* poetry is a suitable substitute for live performance.

Commentator 1: Indeed; without the pyroaesthetics, you're missing the whole thing.

Commentator 2: Exactly. Unless you can see the mountains toppling, the seas crashing, and the fires bursting from the earth, you cannot comprehend the true meaning of the poem.

Commentator 1: Often two poems will *sound* exactly alike, but have totally different meanings.

Commentator 2: That's because the composer has infused each one with an entirely different fire. Magnesium versus Lithium, for instance.

Commentator 1: Preciso. &&@#@&# and #$*&@#&@#: how could the incarnates confuse the two?

Commentator 2: Well, I admit that the dictionary definitions are synonymous -- but if you consider the ethereolinguistic origins of each, you have to admit that the overtones are as different as woodwind and brass. For instance, here's a literal translation of Gurthlog the Pungent's famous distich:

"Hurgh. Hmunsas? Srroz, no, Im flul...
A dwarf with ketcuhp now, wd make me drlol."

Commentator 3: That translation is an improvement.

Commentator 1: Hmmph, appalling mistranslation, that.

Commentator 3: But it's still *better* than the original; let's be honest, Gurthlog just isn't that good a poet.

Commentator 2: It leaves out a great deal that cannot be expressed in human tongues.

Commentator 3: In *any* language.

Commentator 1: For one thing, it's not ketchup, it's a blend of Rh positive orc blood and cthulhu tentacle grease, lightly sautéed for 434,344,324 years.

Commentator 2: 434,344,324 years *exactly*; a minute longer and it's completely inedible.

Commentator 3: Does this recipe takes leap years into account?

Commentator 2: But I'd be fascinated to see your rendition...

Commentator 1: "My mistress' eyes are nothing like human fricassée / Pyroaesthetical damasks are far more hot than her heat index." Of course, one has to use one's inner chronometer (or @*###&#@ #^$^@#*@# $#@); and the poem plays on that, because if you hurgh it, the word for chronometer becomes the female heat principle.

Commentator 2: One day, mortals will properly appreciate rog poetry - when they are suitably starved, tied up, and subjected to intense heat.

Commentator 1: I admire thy faith!

Commentator 2: It will be the inability to escape that will induce true appreciation!

Commentator 1: Hmm... indeed an aesthetically pleasing thought.

Commentator 2: To such an extent, indeed, that all the mortals are rapt incontemplation of it. That, or they're readying high-yield multi-megaton atomic explosives.

Commentator 3: I wonder how the mortals will survive the boredom of Rog Poetry.

Commentator 1: You Noldor can't even read poetry!

Commentator 2: Oh, there's some good Noldorin poetry...

Commentator 1: Bah! Pretty crude stuff.

Commentator 2: Like this one by Elentir the Dimwitted: "The little fairy bunny went bouncing through the grass, / 'Hi,' said the bunny, to everyone who passed." I mean, there's amazing depth there, for an elf.

Commentator 3: That is just lovely.... the depth, the language, the imagery... almost too much to take in!

Commentator 1: See, they don't even rhyme!

Commentator 2: But that's what points us to the fact that we have a serious attempt at subverting the entire genre!

Commentator 1: Yeah, it even has anacoluthon; but I doubt they knew how to subvert.

Commentator 2: I mean, your typical elf poem has got starlit glades, twinkling maidens, diamond-horned unicorns...

Commentator 1: They don't have the $%$#$#@$ figure.

Commentator 2: All that prettiness is summed up in the words "little fairybunny" -- three thousand years' worth of muck subtly critiqued in just three words. Yes, it's technically weak; but this is true of elf poetry as a whole...

Commentator 3: Hey, that should be twinkling glades, diamond-horned maidens, and starlit unicorns!

Commentator 2: And the sheer emptiness of the poem -- the plotlessness -- the lack of character -- the attempt to recreate the exact same aesthetic as 10,315 other elvish poems. On the other hand, maybe Elentir was just an idiot.

Announcer: For transcripts of this and other programs in the NPR Poetry Reading series, please call 1-877-ROG-VERS. Thank you for listening to NPR.


[Reproduced with David Salo's permission. He gave the final form to this text, which was created in a chat by him, Morwen, and myself.]