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Bryant Gumbel - Who Wrote "Night Before Christmas" - Henry Livingston or Clement Moore
YouTube ^ | 2000

Posted on 12/01/2017 3:12:01 PM PST by mairdie

The first interview related to the quest of Vassar Professor Don Foster and myself to prove "Night Before Christmas" was written by Henry Livingston, not Clement Moore. This followed our two page interviews in People Magazine and The New York Times.

In 2014, a mock trial in Troy NY came back with a jury verdict that Henry Livingston was, indeed, the author and December 7, 2014 was named Henry Livingston Day in Troy NY, where the poem was first published.

In 2016, following years of statistical research, Auckland University Emeritus Professor Mac Jackson came out with his book "Who Wrote the Night Before Christmas?" demonstrating his proofs that Henry Livingston was the actual author.

TOPICS: History; Poetry
KEYWORDS: christmas; christmaspoet; poetry
For two solid years, I worked with Mac Jackson to find statistical tests that would differentiate the poetry of Moore from the poetry of Livingston and apply those tests to the Night Before Christmas. The most interesting tests were those examining where the tongue moves in the mouth while reciting aloud - an unconscious characteristic the poets could not control. This involved transcribing their entire bodies of work into phonemes - the sounds of words - and looking at phoneme pairs - how the tongue moved from one position to another.

I've put some of our original data onto the website so that others can examine our research. There's also an attempt to translate Mac's statistical analysis, written for his academic peers, into language understandable by the layperson. This is more extensively discussed in my book, "Henry Livingston, The Poet You Always Loved."

1 posted on 12/01/2017 3:12:02 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

The statistical work continues to this day as we attempt to create a “black box” that will let us put in a poem and get back some probability of the poem being by Livingston or not. In the course of that research, I went over the original newspapers again and discovered additional poems that our black box identifies as by Henry Livingston. One very exciting piece is a Carrier Address of 1812 that also uses the motif of a nighttime visitor, though this one is a French spright in a nightmare. Note the use of the terms elves, clamour and vision from NBC. This is not yet on the web.

Northern Whig, 1 Jan 1812

GOOD Morning dear patrons — I’ve come do you see,
With bowing and singing to levy a fee,
I’ll give you good verse — and believe me sincere,
When I wish you long life — and a happy New-Year.
News-Boys just like Lawyers, will promise you fair,
They’ll give for your money, their Lingo so rare —
And I, (lawyer like) though the best of the throng,
“Full costs” mean to “charge” for my excellent song.
Three days had I labour’d — and in verbage sublime,
I’d scribbed nine sheets — but the Devil a rhyme
Would appear in the whole — so all in a huff,
I sent to the flames a whole volume of stuff,
As smooth, at the least, as that lullaby trash,
Which Osander has publish’d — “to compass the cash.”
Having burnt myself out — last night much oppress’d,
I went to my garret and soon was at rest;
Not thinking, at all, that Hobgoblins or Elves
‘Bout poor little News-Boys would trouble themselves;
Or dreaming that fate had a vision design’d
To enliven my muse and enlighten my mind.
The clock sounded twelve — And awaked by the chime,
I raised up my head — and beheld FATHER TIME
Approaching my bed through the dusk of the night;
In one hand his scythe — in the other a SPRIGHT!!!
Whom leading right to me — He spoke with a leer:
“My Lads be you friends — this is little NEW-YEAR!
“And this is YOUNG WHIG!! Now walk hand in hand
“Stick close to each other — in unity stand —
“And then, though from Clermont again shall appear,
“A Juror like Capron, you’ve nothing to fear:
“For when he beholds this young Spright at your side,
“Like Peter the honest from court you shall glide —
“Your pocket unpick’d — nor two hundred expose,
“To purchase some salve for an editor’s nose —
“And then, though brave Matty his bristles should rear,
“And the honest old Sheriff in rage should appear —
“Though all the fell tribe who compose the wise club
“Where Dayton presides and holds forth to his mob,
“Should like savages yell - yet feel no alarm,
“This honest young spright will protect you from harm.
“These Gentry all worship little NEW-YEAR’S gold wand
“And its sight will unnerve every Democrats hand;
“And thus LITTLE WHIG it shall no more be said
“That you print sacred truth at the risk of your head.”
He ended — And spreading his pinions for flight,
Left little NEW-YEAR and MYSELF for the night.
And now raking open the embers, the light
A Goblin most horrible shew’d to my sight,
In stature a Dwarf — but in visage so fell
He seem’d a dark spirit — just issued from Hell.
He glittered in diamonds — of gold was his wand,
And a purse of “Napoleons” was held in each hand.
He ey’d me askant — and threw open his robe,
Displaying embroider’d a Map of the Globe.
I saw there old Germany struck from her seat,
And Russia bow’d down at an Usurper’s feet,
And places where states in old Europe had stood,
We’re buried, deep buried, in oceans of blood:
And o’er them I read on a label enrolled,
“The CONQUESTS of France and her Tyrant behold.” —
I look’d to the south — a new scene struck my eye —
A kingdom “in armour” — And “freedom” the cry —
From her snow cover’d Mountains, her brave sons again,
As, erst with Pelagius, rush down to the plain;
And there fixed as fate — with dread purpose they stand,
To die, or deliver, their dear native land.
And there I beheld from the Isles of the west,
A band all heroic — at Freedom’s behest
Rush forth to the battle — with banners unfurl’d,
And snatch from the Tyrant a tottering world —
“And O” I exclaimed “if the councils above,
“Are guided by Justice, sweet Mercy and Love,
“Sure, sure, here the Tyrants proud arm shall be stay’d,
“His armies shall fly, and his laurels shall fade;
“The blood of such Patriots shall not flow in vain,
“And the world be preserved by the Heroes of Spain!!”
As I spoke, the fell Spright, with a grin further drew
His mantle aside — and the West met my view —
There drawn at full length, young Columbia I spied,
But ah! how disordered, how humbled her pride —
She seemed like a young man, in vigour and bloom,
By the nostrums of quackery swept to the tomb —
She seem’d a young Giant, unnerved by strong wine,
At her length all extended, inactive, supine —
Her Ports and her Cities how desolate all,
MEMENTOS alike of her rise and her fall.
Indignant I turn’d from this view, to my guest
And “THE LEGION OF HONOR,” appear’d on his breast.
Hah! a Frenchman! I cried — and not the New-Year!
And I shrunk from the wretch with disgust and with fear —
His eyes flashing vengeance — with shrugs and with sneers
He shrieked forth his “foutres” his “pests” and “Monsieurs.”
Of Orders and Edicts his gibberish ran
Of Rambouillet, and Berlin and also Milan —
He pointed to Canada — chattered of Blood!
And shew’d on the map where free Switzerland stood!
He talk’d of embargos and other such stuff,
And “foutred” them all to the shades with a puff.
Our “restrictions” and threat’nings, he sent to “Diable,”
And Damn’d all our Gun-Boats — as tubs for the rabble.
Of the “love of Napoleon” he gabbled an hour,
Of his kindness, and justice, his friendship and power —
Of La Franchise, La Vengeance and other such trash —
And closed by an offer to lend me some cash.
I shrunk from his offer — I spit in his face —
And told him, indignant, his conduct was base —
That though a poor NEWS-BOY, I scorned to do evil,
And him and his master consign’d to the Devil.
Enrag’d, the foul dwarf, wildly flourish’d his wand —
And nine empty purses appear’d in each hand —
Then full in my view, with triumph he rear’d,
On each, at full length, an inscription appear’d.
On the first, “Baptiste Irvine,” was written alone;
The second, “To Dunn,” shew’d its Contents had gone —
On the rest, lofty names, in plain characters glare,
Of statesmen, who rule, and who clamour for war:
The fire flash’d new light — and as nearer I drew;
A purse of small size — was develop’d to view —
It seem’d that some Cents had once lodged therein,
And shillings and sixpences there had been seen,
And on it was written, in characters meet,
“For Captain Stargazer — the tool of De Witt.”
WIth a scowl he, exclaimed — “You see my young friend,
“We ne’er want borrowers, while we’ve money to lend,
“And mark me, YOUNG WHIG — ere long you shall rue,
“This saucy refusal to join the French crew.”
Indignant I view’d him and swore to his head,
I’d publish this day ev’ry word he had said:
Nor would I one word from his gib’rish retrench;
But the shy little Devil spoke wholly in French.
At which growing angry — I bade him Adieu,
And wrote just at day light, this VISION for you.

2 posted on 12/01/2017 3:15:50 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie
One of the problems....Moore claimed it. Livingston did not.

Went all through this a couple months ago.

3 posted on 12/01/2017 3:24:24 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: mairdie

I don’t know but it sure ruined Christmas.

4 posted on 12/01/2017 3:37:17 PM PST by huldah1776 ( Vote Pro-life! Allow God to bless America before He avenges the death of the innocent.)
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To: Sacajaweau

Absolutely Moore claimed it. But only after he received an answer to his letter from the editor of the Troy Sentinel asking if he had known the author when he published the poem. Tuttle said no. Moore published. Up until that time, he’d told his children not to let the poem out of the house.

And what Moore published was not the original poem, though he told people it was. He published the version extensively edited by the Troy editor which the editor had mailed him. Moore couldn’t tell the difference. What author takes over 50 edits and still says the poem is unchanged?

As to Livingston not claiming it, Livingston claimed none of his poetry. But his family claimed it for him, and in fact many of them knew the original manuscript with crossouts. Moore explained the lack of such a manuscript by saying that he composed it in his head and wrote it down perfectly. Which didn’t explain why it was the edited version of the Troy editor.

As to timing, there seemed to be some concern that Christmas was coming too early, so this is now in the Christmas timeframe.

5 posted on 12/01/2017 3:39:08 PM PST by mairdie
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To: huldah1776

That’s an extremely strange statement. It’s usually accounted as one of the great poems as being perfectly set at the point of view and concerns of a child.

Look at Moore’s poetry:

What! My sweet little Sis, in bed all alone;
No light in your room! And your nursy too gone!
And you, like a good child, are quietly lying,
While some naughty ones would be fretting or crying?
Well, for this you must have something pretty, my dear;
And, I hope, will deserve a reward too next year.
But, speaking of crying, I’m sorry to say
Your screeches and screams, so loud ev’ry day,
Were near driving me and my goodies away.
Good children I always give good things in plenty;
How sad to have left your stocking quite empty:
But you are beginning so nicely to spell,
And, in going to bed, behave always so well,
That, although I too oft see the tear in your eye,
I cannot resolve to pass you quite by.
I hope, when I come here again the next year,
I shall not see even the sign of a tear.
And then, if you get back your sweet pleasant looks,
And do as you’re bid, I will leave you some books,
Some toys, or perhaps what you still may like better,
And then too may write you a prettier letter.
At present, my dear, I must bid you good bye;
Now, do as you’re bid; and, remember, don’t cry.


Then look at Henry’s:

Letter sent to master Timmy Dwight, the son of Rev. Dr. Timothy Dwight, president of Yale
7 ys old Dec. 7. 1785

Master Timmy brisk and airy
Blythe as Oberon the fairy
On thy head thy cousin wishes
Thousand and ten thousand blisses.

Never may thy wicket ball
In a well or puddle fall;
Or thy wild ambitious kite
O’er the Elm’s thick foliage light.

When on bended knee thou sittest
And the mark in fancy hittest
May thy marble truly trace
Where thy wishes mark’d the place.

If at hide and seek you play,
All involved in the hay
Titt’ring hear the joyful sound
“Timmy never can be found.”

If you hop or if you run
Or whatever is the fun,
Vic’try with her sounding pinion
Hover o’er her little minion.

But when hunger calls the boys
From their helter skelter joys:
Bread and cheese in order standing
For their most rapacious handling
Timmy may thy luncheon be
More than Ben’s as five to three.

But if hasty pudding’s dish
Meet thy vast capacious wish -
Or lob-lollys charming jelly
Court thy cormorantal belly
Mortal foe to megre fast
Be thy spoonful first & last.

6 posted on 12/01/2017 3:42:37 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie
" The most interesting tests were those examining where the tongue moves in the mouth while reciting aloud - an unconscious characteristic the poets could not control. This involved transcribing their entire bodies of work into phonemes - the sounds of words - and looking at phoneme pairs - how the tongue moved from one position to another.

When I was about 70-years younger and single, the most interesting tests for my favorite girl friend were those examining where the tongue moves in the mouth while reciting aloud - an unconscious characteristic the hottest girls could not control. This involved transcribing their entire bodies into phonemes - the sounds of words - and looking at those phenomenal pairs - how the tongue moved from one to another.

7 posted on 12/01/2017 5:08:52 PM PST by SuperLuminal (Where is another agitator for republicanism like Sam Adams when we need him?)
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To: SuperLuminal

You are SO funny!

Wasn’t growing up and learning about the opposite sex wonderful?

8 posted on 12/01/2017 5:13:59 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

Talking about Night before Christmas. When not even a mouse was stirring in the Stable because the Messiah, the Son of God, had been born. You know, the Savior?

9 posted on 12/01/2017 7:13:30 PM PST by huldah1776 ( Vote Pro-life! Allow God to bless America before He avenges the death of the innocent.)
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To: huldah1776

Wasn’t he related to Santa Claus. Maybe third cousins?

10 posted on 12/01/2017 7:23:06 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie
Freepers - Go to google Books

Search for: The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin Volumes 1-5

When you pull up the title, you can just search for Moore and go to pages 111-115 in Vol II dated Jan 1919.


11 posted on 12/01/2017 7:26:17 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: Sacajaweau

Henry Livingston’s family first discovered that Moore was claiming Henry’s poem around 1859, 30 years after Henry died. By then a number of the family were involved with the ministry of the church and worried about challenging someone rich and connected. It wasn’t until the women of the family got together and decided it was time to do something that they gathered up their data - around 1880. But by then the original mss had burned and their proof was gone in smoke. But they began to go public in 19001. It was around 1920 that the family got the first articles published, and that’s when Moore’s descendants screwed up and came out with the testimonial that proved to be untrue - that Moore had written the poem intact with almost no changes.

The president of Vassar and a number of other academics came out in Livingston’s side, but the arguments were all literary and therefore still unproven. You could get details that made sense - like Henry’s letters talk about mama while Moore’s letters always say mother. But those aren’t proof. And what Don Foster came up with wasn’t proof either. Just more details that showed what a bad poet Moore was and what a good poet Livingston was.

It wasn’t until Mac Jackson did his statistical analysis over a broad range of tests that the proof was able to be pulled together. And proof is the right word. By statistical analysis, Moore couldn’t have written the poem and Livingston was right in the numbers.

12 posted on 12/01/2017 7:35:38 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

13 posted on 12/01/2017 7:38:13 PM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: mairdie

Mac's Data:
Henry-Favored and Moore-Favored Phoneme Pairs

Mac's Chapter on "Individual Phoneme Pairs More Favored by Moore or Livingston
All phoneme pairs falling within either Moore's or Livingston's top hundred, in terms of frequency of use, were tested by chi-square to determine whether they were used significantly more often within the overall corpus of one or other poet. This significance testing uncovered, neatly though coincidentally, ten phoneme pairs more favored by Moore and ten more favored by Livingston.

Moore's were:

T/DH   T/F   T/S   Z/W   S/W   Z/T   IY/T   D/P   S/S   Z/CH

Livingston's were:

AH/N   AH/F   AH/S   AH/B   AH/K   AH/L   AH/P   N/AH   Z/AO   ZIH

Mac's phoneme pair lists would mean more if you could listen to their sounds. Taking all the phoneme pairs from a single poem for each poet, the phoneme pairs are the sound at the end of the first word and the sound at the beginning of the next word.

Moore Favored Phoneme Pairs in "Saratoga"
Phoneme Pair     Word Pair
T/DH at the
T/F not for
T/S That spoke
Z/W comes we'll
S/W chance were
Z/T waters to
IY/T we take
D/P and plenteous
S/S fierce soe'er
Z/CH his children

Henry Favored Phoneme Pairs in "Invitation to the Country"
Phoneme Pair     Word Pair
AH/N The nightingale
AH/F The flimsy
AH/S the side
AH/B a bush
AH/K The copses
AH/L the lawn
AH/ the plains
N/AH season of
Z/AO flits o'er
Z/IH gambols in

Let's look at the data.

    Favored Phoneme Pairs for Individual Poems - Moore
    Favored Phoneme Pairs Summary - Moore
    Favored Phoneme Pairs for Individual Poems - Henry
    Favored Phoneme Pairs Summary - Henry
    Favored Phoneme Pairs - "Night Before Christmas"
    Favored Phoneme Pairs Summary - "Night Before Christmas"

In the table below, Mac was able to discriminate between Henry's poetry and Moore's by dividing Henry-favored pairs by the sum of Henry-favored and Moore-favored pairs.

Because poems with too few favored phonemes would yield random results, poems with less than 12 total phoneme pairs were eliminated from each poet's set. Since Henry wrote shorter poems, on the average, this meant 25 poems were removed from his set, while Moore only lost 6 poems. But for the ones remaining, tests could be trusted to be statistically significant. What is being analyzed is 1483 lines by Henry and 2750 lines by Moore.

Poet     Means of Percentage
for Individual Poems
H-fav/(H-fav + M-fav)
Henry 66.654
Moore         42.912
Visit 64.912

So, for phoneme pairs, a completely unconscious writing characteristic, Mac's calculations showed that "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" sat firmly in Henry's camp at 64.912.

14 posted on 12/01/2017 7:47:33 PM PST by mairdie
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To: Sacajaweau

No question that after Tuttle wrote to Moore, Moore claimed the poem and signed copies, usually in passive tense. “The poem was written...” Not “I wrote the poem.” My personal theory is that when he first read the poem to his children, that he let them think he wrote it. He did write Christmas poems. Just horrible ones. And he told them not to let the poem out. But the kids did and they were excited when the poem spread. To have told them he didn’t write the poem would have been too embarrassing. And so for years he kept it within the household and didn’t admit to the authorship.

Another Christmas poem attributed to Moore and published in his friend’s magazine. Note the consistency between the use of MOTHER in the poem, as in all of Moore’s letters.

Old SANTECLAUS with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night,
O’er chimney-tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gifts to you.

The steady friend of virtuous youth,
The friend of duty, and of truth,
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace have made their home.

Through many houses he has been,
And various beds and stockings seen;
Some, white as snow, and neatly mended,
Others, that seemed for pigs intended.

Where e’er I found good girls or boys,
That hated quarrels, strife and noise,
I left an apple, or a tart,
Or wooden gun, or painted cart.

To some I gave a pretty doll,
To some a peg-top, or a ball;
No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets,
To blow their eyes up, or their pockets.

No drums to stun their Mother’s ear,
Nor swords to make their sisters fear;
But pretty books to store their mind
With knowledge of each various kind.

But where I found the children naughty,
In manners rude, in temper haughty,
Thankless to parents, liars, swearers,
Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers,

I left a long, black, birchen rod,
Such as the dread command of God
Directs a Parent’s hand to use
When virtue’s path his sons refuse.

15 posted on 12/01/2017 7:54:20 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

Mac's Data:
Frequency of Common Words

Common Words That Discriminate
Despite the context-sensitive character of many pronouns and verbs, they have been used effectively in dozens of authorship studies, along with other high-frequency words. Very common words that, unlike "that," are ineffective as stand-alone discriminators may have value as members of a substantial group of words, each with some discriminatory power. So, as an initial trial, from word lists, ordered by frequency, for Moore and for Livingston, there were extracted each poet's top fifty words.

    All Words in All Poems
    Word Frequencies in All
    Word Frequencies in Moore
    Word Frequencies in Henry
    Word Frequencies in Visit

Mac pulled from the frequency listing twenty-six words that were in both Moore and Henry's poetry, and which appeared twice in "The Night Before Christmas." These he placed in rank order. Mac then applied Spearman's rank-order correlation, a simple statistical test, to determine whether the rank order for Visit of these twenty-six words more closely matches the rank order for Henry or the rank order for Moore.

From this data, Mac found the correlation between Visit and Henry to be .7638. The correlation between Visit and Moore was .6633. Which meant that the way the words are used in Visit is closer to the way they're used in Henry's poetry rather than the way they're used in Moore's.

Next Mac identified words favored by Henry more than Moore (Henry Favored Words), and by Moore more than Henry (Moore Favored Words). After dropping words that had been evaluated in other tests, so as to keep the tests independent, Mac was left with

Henry Favored Words:
I   his   my   her   on   as   is   was   at    thy   will    day   When   me   Where   While

Moore Favored Words:
to   from   your   for   they   be   With   this   our   not   which   so   would   For   it    heart   Of   are   we

    Henry and Moore Favored Words in Poems

Using a t-test, Mac found it unlikely that Henry's poems and Moore's poems fit within a single population. So he had a differentiator. Looking at "The Night Before Christmas," Mac found that it fit neatly within Henry's percentages, but was an outlier for Moore, that it, it was at the extreme end of Moore's percentages.

16 posted on 12/01/2017 7:57:21 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

Mac's Data:
Frequency of Less Common Words

Words of Medium-High Frequency
The success of high-frequency (top 50) words in discriminating between poems by Moore and poems by Livingston is an encouragement to experiment with words of medium-high frequency - the sixty next most highly ranked in either poet's body of verse. From lists of these were extracted the words that were used at rates at least 1.2 times higher by Moore than by Livingston, and vice versa. It turns out that only two were between 1.2 and 1.3 times as frequent, and both of these were very close to a more demanding 1.3 cut-off point. Sixty words were checked, rather than the fifty of the previous test, because, being of lower frequency, items in this category naturally provided fewer data, in terms of total occurrences.

    Henry and Moore Favored Words in Poems

After examining the sixty words, Mac found thirty-four Henry Favored Words and thirty-seven Moore Favored Words. He chose to analyze only those poems that contained at least ten of the favored words.

This time there was no subtlety to the separation of the two bodies of poetry. Mac explained that "Livingston's mean of 60.814 for individual poems with at least ten test words is more than twice Moore's of 29.489. The percentage of 53.704 for 'The Night Before Christmas' lies just outside Moore's actual range of 14.583-53.333 for such poems but well within Livingston's of 30.000-89.474."

17 posted on 12/01/2017 7:59:44 PM PST by mairdie
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To: mairdie

Mac's Data:
"And " versus "And,"

Moore starts a line with "And" 307 times out of 2873 lines. In 40 of those instances, the word is followed with a comma:


Livingston starts 212 out of 1892 lines with "And" and the word is never followed by a comma.

"And" starts 12 out of 56 lines in "Night Before Christmas" and is never followed by a comma.

Let's look at the data.

    Initial Ands for Visit and Moore
    Initial Ands for Visit and Henry
    Ands for All, including Plus Henry

The data linked above includes the text of all poems examined. Plus Henry is not included in the details. The set was a rough idea of poems that might be Henry's and was tested to see how they individually fit within the body of Henry's work. We are currently working on a methodology to test whether a particular poem can be identified as being by Henry or by a sample of poets writing in the same timeframe and publications as Henry.

18 posted on 12/01/2017 8:02:13 PM PST by mairdie
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To: huldah1776

I thought it was Yogi Jorgensen.

19 posted on 12/01/2017 8:28:53 PM PST by mfish13 (Elections have Consequences.)
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To: mfish13

It was director Tim Burton.

20 posted on 12/01/2017 9:08:55 PM PST by minnesota_bound
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