Inspired by the musical composition strategy twelve-tone technique -- devised by Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg (1974-1951), in which all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sound as often as one another in a piece of music -- American poet Elizabeth Bartlett (1911-1994) has developed the twelve-tone poem. In Bartlett's words:
The poem consists of 12 lines, divided into couplets.
Each couplet contains 12 syllables, using the natural cadence of speech.
The accented sounds of the words are considered tones.
Only 12 tones are used throughout the poem, repeated various times.
As a result, the poem achieves a rare harmony that is purely lyrical,
enriching its imagery and meaning
The following poem is on my shelf in Memory Is No Stranger (Ohio Univ. Press, 1981), a collection of Bartlett's twelve-tone poems; it also is found in the math-poetry anthology Against Infinity (Primary Press, 1979).
The Infinite Present by Elizabeth Bartlett
Because I longed
to comprehend the infinite
I drew a line
between the known and the unknown
From zero base
to its apex point opposite
all past time from all future time
And all of space,
the positive from negative.
Where both sides met,
they formed the infinite present.