The second of the Google Variations was a transformation of Robert Frost’s Fire And Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
The iterations of Google Translate resulted in some chilling phrases. The violent and apocolyptic phrases in the original poem “the world will end”, “perish”, “hate”, “destruction” yielded both beautiful and terrifying imagery. They seemed to evoke the mass shootings and acts of war found in newspapers and YouTube vidoes almost every day. The vagaries of the Google Translate algorithm would change the points of view of the phrases, sometimes acting as an observer, sometimes a victim, and most chillingly, as a perpetrator.
I will take those infected
I will turn out the lights
I will maintain the confidence in fire of desire.
I will kill the taste of the people
I will promote the flame, the flavor, and the fire
I want to conduct a multitude of those who favor fire
the end of the world
the snow that said that people should be executed
Just to feel hatred, to destroy
I want the fire to be loved
countries around the world under the snow
finally the icy air…
I met with the victims
and they are the light of the world
I want to shoot them.
It will be used in the world
and it is the sound of the snow, he said
Maybe it’s just snow on the fire
and will never be…
Some pain, says the snow
Some pain, says the ice
the standard pain and grieving
this is my wish
to be named
The perspectives of these phrases seem to alternate between that of an angel of death and those experiencing the apocalypse. What does it feel like to destroy a world? What does it feel like to have your world destroyed?
The setting seemed to call for a sort of Dias Irae, the latin hymn for the day of reckoning. I decided layer these phrases over the text of the original Frost poem translated into latin.
Alii dicunt “munus perdetur igne”
alii dicunt “munus perdetur glacie”.
Ex res desiderii quas expertus sum
adsenitor ilos qui favent igni.
Sed si bis necesse est mundo perire
credo mihi scire satis de odio
ut scio glaciem est quoque bonus
et sufficiat gratia exitii.
To try to evoke the primal terror of the apocalypse, the piece opens and closes with a driving rhythmic figure on the syllables “bankata fahyer aya”, which are derived from the title of the Frost work as well as a nod to Eliot’s “Bang” in lieu of a whisper. The intended effect is otherworldly, ancient, and terrifying.