Typing the word "listlessness" in a recent blog entry, I happened to think of "ruthlessness" and then of this poem:
Ruth rode on my cycle car
directly back of me;
I hit a bump at sixty-five
and rode on ruthlessly.
I can't remember where or when I read it, but Google shows me it has many versions, while a physicsforums.com posting by "franznietzsche" suggests it's over a century old:
My father had a book called '1001 Jokes, Toasts and Quotes for All Occasions'. I haven't seen it in years, but I'll never rest until I find it again. It was published in 1901 (the same year he was born), and a lot of the jokes in it were at least 50 or 100 years old then. ... In the next one, I'm going to substitute a modern brand name for the original which you would never have heard of, but the rest is original:
Ruth rode on my Harley,
on the seat in back of me;
I took a bump at 95
and rode on Ruthlessly.
Programming languages were listless before 1958, except perhaps for IPL. A buggy garbage collector could leave your pointers listless. Fanatical Prolog programmers prefer to remain Lispless. You may guess that I've been trying to write a "listless" poem. This isn't perfect, but it's the best so far:
Lisp looped past initial CAR,
thence CADR and CADADDR.
I didn't check for NIL; and so,
Lisp looped on listlessly.
(In Lisp, as often elsewhere, lists are sequences of storage blocks. Each block has a head, holding data, and a tail, pointing to the next block. But the head is called CAR and the tail CDR, after ancient abbreviations used on the IBM 704 where Lisp was first implemented. CAR stands for "contents of address part of register"; CDR for "contents of decrement part of register". Functions named after combinations of A and D were and still are provided, so that for example, CADR gets the head of the tail of a list.)
Can you come up with better "listless" verses? Please post them in comments, or send to email@example.com, and I'll publish a list of results.