5 Artists That Used Less Than 140 Characters… Hundreds of Years Ago

Before Twitter and before the internet, these authors were expressing themselves in 140-characters or less. You can call them poets, but I can them the proto-tweeters.

Before Twitter and before the internet, these authors were expressing themselves in 140-characters or less. You can call them poets, but I can them the proto-tweeters.

 

 

SAPPHO (5th century BC):

Often cited as the first poet of all time, Sappho wrote lines of verse around 500 BC. Her poetry was well known throughout the antiquity, but much of it has been lost, and survives only in fragments written on scrolls recovered by scholars and archeologists.

Favorite Tweet: “You burn me”

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVALIS (1772- 1801):

Georg Philipp Friedrich von Hardenberg wrote using the pseudonym Novalis in the late 1700s. He’s known for his philosophical fragments— bits of expression that were often once sentence or less. His writings were published in 1798 in The Athenäum, a magazine edited by the brothers Schlegel. Together with a writer by the name of Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis developed the fragment as a literary form of art, elevating “tweet-sized” expressions to high art that would come to classify the Romantic period.

Favorite ‘tweet’: “Love is the foundation of possibility”

 

 

GERTRUDE STEIN (1874 – 1946):

Canadian author Angela Carter once wrote that the period between Homer and  Gertrude Stein was “a difficult interval for a poet.” Carter’s words capture the extent to which Stein revolutionized poetry; Stein insisted that language be treated as playful expression rather than simply a tool for communication. Stein’s words “bounce,” jumbling up verbs, adjectives and adverbs to force readers to slow down and relish the beauty of words and their sounds.  She wrote in concise expressions that typically didn’t exceed two stanzas.

Favorite ‘tweet’: “A kind in glass and a cousin, a spectacle and nothing strange a single hurt color and an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling. The difference is spreading.” (from Tender Buttons)

 

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (1883-1963) :

William Carlos Williams was an American physician, but those who knew him tell that he worked harder at his writing than at his medical studies. Like ee cummings, Williams is closely associated with 20th century modernism, as he also wrote in fragments.

Favorite ‘tweet’: “so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside / the white / chickens.”

 

 

EE CUMMINGS (1894- 1962):

Edward Estlin Cummings was born October 14, 1894 in the town of Cambridge Massachusetts. Though Cummings wrote across genres— from plays to novels to essays—he is most known mostly for his poetry, which has become a hallmark of 20th century modernism. Cummings wrote in fractured verses, much like the modern day tweet.

Favorite ‘tweet’: “If we love each (shyly) / other, what clouds do or Silently / Flowers resembles beauty / less than our breathing” (from “if i love you”)