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The game and poetry – The game in literature

August 24, 2021

Poetry has been associated with gambling for as long as literary art has existed. From the earliest days of Homer to modern Hollywood, poets and writers have looked to card games, cockfights, and gambling halls for inspiration.

The connection between the game and poetry dates back to the earliest days of poetry, with many classic authors citing the game as an inspiration for their work. This is not surprising considering that both are inherently risky endeavors. The game relies heavily on chance, and the odds of winning are generally slim.

On the other hand, poets are by nature risk takers; and their status often hinges on widespread acclaim. They have always lived dangerously, witness Lord Byron’s affair with his half-sister or Chaucer’s scandalous lifestyle. To complicate matters, poets tend to live not only precariously but also strangely.

Poets constantly seek inspiration; they turn to their emotional world just as players turn to chance. In games of chance, one can win a large sum of money by sheer luck; in poetry, something similar can happen: one’s poems can be received with great acclaim and bring the wealth and social status of the poet. Both require risk taking and the ability to guess correctly, in the same way that both poetry and gambling have their set of rules that are misunderstood by many.

Many poets and writers have turned to gambling as a way to escape the harsh reality around them. Inspiration is presented as the second most popular motivation to bet. The possibility of earning money most often ranks last.

A significant percentage of both classical and modern authors have made reference to the game in their literature. Although it is difficult to attribute any work in its entirety to the inspiration of the game, several well-known writings are directly related to the game. Read on to discover examples of gambling and poetry coming together.

play and Homer’s “Iliad”

The ancient Greek poet Homer is said to have been greatly influenced by an early form of a dice game played in his era called “Alea”. This game involved rolling five six-sided stones, and those who rolled a certain number were rewarded with large sums of money.

The Iliad was based on the events surrounding the Trojan War, said to have been sparked by the kidnapping of Helen, a Spartan queen.

William Shakespeare and “All’s well that ends well”

In 1602, William Shakespeare published All’s Well That Ends Well, which many critics consider to be one of his best works. The play itself is based on the game, with a character named Parolles describing himself as a “player” throughout the play.

Although Act II of William Shakespeare’s play is devoted to the game, Parolles describes himself as a “gambler”, many other references within his poetry dissertations indicate his great love of the game.

Since then, many writers have criticized the inclusion of gambling as a strong theme within Shakespeare’s works, claiming that his writings were little more than thinly veiled literature based on true events. Although many people denied Shakespeare’s work at the time, a growing number believe that he was, in fact, a writer heavily influenced by his experiences with the play.

Rudyard Kipling and The “Ballad of East and West”

Rudyard Kipling is considered to be one of the most famous names when it comes to poetry. He was also a renowned author with several works to his credit, but he is perhaps best known for his poem “The Ballad of East and West”.

This poem reflects the author’s strong feelings towards gambling and betting, with Kipling urging everyone to avoid the evils of gambling in favor of a life devoted to religion. The article was written in 1889 during an era when bookies operating at British racecourses and cricket grounds were widely criticized; the 1889 season saw many racecourses close for this reason.

This poem is considered a work that really captures the feeling of being involved in the game. It’s almost as if Kipling could reach into his soul and use his poetry as a way of discharging all of his emotions, which no doubt had some connection to the game.

by Oscar Wilde “The Ballad of Reading Jail”

Perhaps one of the most famous pieces of literature to come out of a gaming experience is Oscar Wilde’s “The Ballad Of Reading Gaol.” This poem was first published in 1898 and is still recognized as one of the most famous pieces of prison literature in the world.
This piece of poetry is related to the game because Wilde was initially investigated for cheating at the game. However, he was eventually charged with a much more serious crime.

Oscar Wilde was found guilty of gross indecency and sentenced to two years hard labor. He then spent time in prison before being released on medical grounds. It has been suggested that the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” was actually written to help people understand what the prison experience would be like for those unlucky enough to find themselves incarcerated in such an environment.

Wilde had more than a passing interest in gambling, and it has been suggested that his trial was perhaps related to his love of games. The author was a regular visitor to casinos and bookmakers throughout his life, especially during his stay in Paris. But he was also an avid gamer in the more traditional sense of the word; Wilde is believed to have loved to bet on horse racing and cricket matches with some of his closest friends.

James Joyce “The dead”

Poets like James Joyce, who was also a great player, have turned to the game as inspiration for their writing.

In his short story “The Dead,” there is a scene where Gabriel Conroy and the other party guests are trying to play cards with Mr. Browne when he suddenly throws all his money on the table. Joyce used his experiences with the game to write most of “The Dead’s” scenes.

charles bukowski and “The Bookworm”

A poem that did not make it into the collection “Crucifix in a Deathhand: Poems 1987-1990”, but is quoted here from “Notes for Future Works”, collected in 1993.

The poem begins with an epigraph to Wild Bill Hickok, who was shot to death after a game of poker, and then examines what it means to be a poet, especially one who writes poetry devoted to gambling.

charles baudelaire “Flowers of evil”

Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal has been referred to as “the most immoral book ever published”.

One of his most famous lines comes from a poem dedicated to the game, Le Jeu (The Game). This poem is full of references to gambling and paints a picture of life as a game played by the devil.

It also pays homage to the fact that gaming has always been one of man’s greatest and most closely guarded pleasures.

last words

Throughout the history of literature, the game has proven to be a significant influence. It seems that great writers are drawn to him like moths to a flame; Gambling is such an alluring and fascinating subject that it often inspires truly thought-provoking pieces of writing.

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