Sonnet #404
October 11, 2006 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a few lines of poetry that would be appropriate for a 404 page, preferably from somewhat well-known authors. Any suggestions?
posted by sonofslim to Writing & Language (28 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Superb idea.

There's got to be something appropriate by Emily Dickinson.
posted by randomination at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2006

I like the minimalist pallindrome "404 Page gap 404".
Or when the expected page doesn't load throw up "It's dark and you are likely to be eaten by a grue."
posted by now i'm piste at 9:15 AM on October 11, 2006

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—. I took the one less traveled by,. And that has made all the difference."

--Robert Frost
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2006

Back when I ran a web server, I used this:
"You step in the stream
But the water has moved on
URL not found"

Not famous, nor a well-known author. But it worked for me.
posted by leapfrog at 9:19 AM on October 11, 2006

Apologies to WC Williams:

I have removed
the URLS
that were on
the Server

and which
you were probably
to render

Forgive me
they were /.’ed
so 733t
and so pwned
posted by Chrischris at 9:26 AM on October 11, 2006 [12 favorites]

What's gone and what's past help
Should be past grief.

Shakespeare--The Winter's Tale (III, ii, 223-224 )
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:29 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

THat is not dead which can forever lie,
and with strange aeons, even death may die.

-HP Lovecraft
posted by Mister_A at 9:34 AM on October 11, 2006

Best answer: "A different path from this one would be best
For you to find your way from this feral place,"

spoken by the poet Virgil in Dante's Inferno, Canto I, 70-71 (Pinsky translation)
posted by The Michael The at 9:35 AM on October 11, 2006

Yesterday upon the stair, I met a page that wasn't there...
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on October 11, 2006

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that allows the wheel to function.

We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

We fashion wood for a house,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes it livable.

We work with the substantial,
but the emptiness is what we use.

-- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, ch. 11, tr. J. H McDonald
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:43 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: to clarify, i'm looking for poetry that isn't doctored. (or in this case, mod_rewritten?)

although i totally love yours, chrischris. barnes & noble used that poem among others in a series of ads on the subway here in NY, it's always been a favorite of mine.
posted by sonofslim at 9:51 AM on October 11, 2006

It is said, "To err is human,"
That quote from alt.times.lore,
Alas, you have made an error,
So I say, "404."

Double-check your URL,
As we all have heard before.
You ask for an invalid filename,
And I respond, "404."

Perhaps you made a typo --
Your fingers may be sore --
But until you type it right,
You'll only get 404.

Maybe you followed a bad link,
Surfing a foreign shore;
You'll just have to tell that author
About this 404.

I'm just a lowly server
Who likes to speak in metaphor,
So for a request that I don't know,
I must return 404.

Be glad I'm not an old mainframe
That might just dump its core,
Because then you'd get a ten-meg file
Instead of this 404.

I really would like to help you,
But I don't know what you're looking for,
And since I don't know what you want,
I give you 404.

Remember Poe, insane with longing
For his tragically lost Lenore.
Instead, you quest for files.
Quoth the Raven, "404!"

I'm unsure of the author, but I think you can feel free to make it well-known.
posted by sephira at 9:58 AM on October 11, 2006

Best answer: Sorry, sonofslim, didn't see your comment on preview. These come to mind...

In the middle of the journey of my life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.
- Dante, The Divine Comedy

Praising what is lost
Makes the remembrance dear.
- Wiliam Shakespeare
posted by sephira at 10:06 AM on October 11, 2006

Just whipped this up. It's shorter and more in agreement with Poe's rhyme and rhythm in The Raven.

Ah, distinctly I remember.
It was on the older server
And each file was forever
On the disk the server bore.

The suddenly there was a tapping
As if someone gently rapping
Rapping on my keyboard yore
Now the file is 404.
posted by kc0dxh at 10:31 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: no need for apologies, i thought it was great even if it's not quite what i'm looking for. your shakespeare quote is right on the money, though!
posted by sonofslim at 10:33 AM on October 11, 2006

Listen; there's a hell of a good universe next door: let's go.
ee cummings
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:06 AM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

One of my very favorite bits of T.S. Eliot:

Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

From "Burnt Norton."
posted by languagehat at 11:47 AM on October 11, 2006

This is maybe too ridiculous for your needs, but I like it anyway:

All I do is this:
I paint the sky every morning
While you are asleep
You get up and it's blue.

The sea is ripped occasionally.
You don't know who sews it back.
I do.

I fool around from time to time too.
This is also my job.
I think of a head in my head.
I think of a stomach in my stomach.
I think of a foot in my foot.
I don't know what the hell to do.

--"Mahmut, the Loafer" by Orhan Veli, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat.

the last two lines dances_with_sneetches posted would be even better than just the last:

a hopeless case if--listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go
posted by hototogisu at 12:17 PM on October 11, 2006

For, O, for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot. (Hamlet, Act III scene II)
posted by senor biggles at 12:30 PM on October 11, 2006


Things slowly curve out of sight
Until they are gone. Afterwards
Only the curve

-- Richard Brautigan
posted by forrest at 12:46 PM on October 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

Whose URL this is, I think I know,
This page is not loading though...
posted by coevals at 2:25 PM on October 11, 2006

"There is no there there."

- Gertrude Stein
posted by mono blanco at 2:37 PM on October 11, 2006

404 -

For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks-not that you won or lost-
But how you played the game.

- Grantland Rice, Alumunus Football, Only the Brave and Other Poems.
posted by Lanark at 3:50 PM on October 11, 2006

I've used this:

"Home is where, when you have to go there, they have to take you."
-Robert Frost, Death of the Hired Man

Redirecting this 404 Page Not Found error in 10 seconds.

(And then redirect to your index page, or an error reporting page in 10 seconds.)
posted by paulsc at 5:40 PM on October 11, 2006

I don't suppose there's a way to randomize the poetry / 404 page you get? There's several good suggestions here. You might get people to go for the 404 page just to read a new quote.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:02 PM on October 12, 2006

More Haiku Error Messages from Salon Magazine
posted by Lanark at 1:37 PM on October 12, 2006

Response by poster: dances_with_sneetches: it was always my intent to collect enough to rotate a decent number; i'm off to a good start! i'll put a link on metaprojects when everything is up and running.... uh, so you can all look at my error pages. every web developer's dream.

here are two snippets i found that i really like:

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.
- Blake

Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.
- Coleridge
posted by sonofslim at 7:32 PM on October 12, 2006

I think sonnets 43 or 73 might work in this context.
posted by whir at 8:56 PM on October 14, 2006

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