House of Leaves of Grass

Mark Sample

House of Leaves of Grass is a poetry generator that is for all practical purposes boundless.

Except it is not. Boundless, that is.

The number of stanzas (stanza, from the Italian word for 'room') approximates the number of cells in the human body, around 100 trillion. Each stanza is plotted by two coordinates, along an X and Y axis. The coordinates range from 0:0 to 10000000:10000000. To operate the system, you may

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

    —Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"

The Stanzas

The words and phrases in House of Leaves of Grass are drawn from two sources: the complete text of 1891-1892 "deathbed" edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and the complete text of House of Leaves (2000) by Mark Z. Danielewski. The words and phrases were selected according to either frequency of appearance or thematic significance. See the Artist's Statement for more details.

The Type

The generated stanzas are set in Jim Studt’s public domain implementation of an A. V. Hershey vector font developed for the United States National Bureau of Standards. Hermann Zapf’s Palatino Linotype is used for other text if available to the browser. House of Leaves of Grass relies on two modifications to Studt's canvastext.js: (1) a slightly altered dash character and (2) the rendering of all occurrences of the word "House" in blue. This latter modification is courtesy of Joel McCoy.

Canvas Required

House of Leaves of Grass requires a canvas-enabled browser, such as the current versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my Body let us write, (for we are one,)
That should I after return,
Or, long, long hence, in other spheres,
There to some group of mates the chants resuming,
(Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,)
Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on,
Ever and ever yet the verses owning--as, first, I here and now
Signing for Soul and Body, set to them my name,

    —Walt Whitman

Read House of Leaves of Grass