Gambling and Poetry – Gambling 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 casinos for inspiration.
The connection between gambling and poetry can be traced back to the earliest days of poetry, with many classical authors citing gambling as an inspiration for their work. This isn’t surprising given that both are inherently risky ventures. Gambling is highly dependent on chance and the odds of winning are generally slim.
On the other hand, poets are naturally risk-takers; and their status often depends on widespread recognition. You’ve always lived a dangerous life – witness Lord Byron’s affair with his half-sister or Chaucer’s rough lifestyle. To make matters worse, poets tend to live not only precariously, but strangely.
Poets are constantly looking for inspiration; They turn to their emotions, just as players turn to chance. In gambling, a large sum of money can be won through sheer luck; Something similar can happen in poetry – one’s poems can gain great acclaim and bring wealth and social status to the poet. Both require risk-taking and a knack for guessing correctly, much like poetry and gambling have their own set of rules that are misunderstood by many.
Many poets and writers have turned to gambling to escape the harsh reality that surrounds them. Inspiration is the second most common motivation for gambling. The chance to win money mostly takes the last place.
A significant percentage of both classical and modern authors have referred to gambling in their literature. Although it is difficult to fully attribute a single work to gambling inspiration, several well-known pieces of writing are directly related to gambling. Read on to discover examples of gambling and poetry coming together.
gambling and Homer’s “Iliad”
The ancient Greek poet Homer is said to have been heavily influenced by an early form of a dice game called “Alea” played in his day. In this game, five six-sided stones were thrown, and whoever threw a certain number was 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 Spartan Queen Helena.
William Shakespeare and “All’s well that ends well”
In 1602 William Shakespeare published All Well That Ends Well, which many critics consider to be one of his finest works. The play itself is based on games of chance, with a character named Parolles referring to himself as “gambler” throughout the play.
Although the second act of William Shakespeare’s play is devoted to gambling and Parolles refers to himself as “gambler”, many other references in his dissertations on poetry indicate his great love of gambling.
Many authors have since criticized the inclusion of gambling as a strong theme in Shakespeare’s works, claiming that his writings are little more than thinly veiled literature based on real events. Although many people denied Shakespeare’s work at the time, more and more people believe that he was in fact a writer who was heavily influenced by his gambling experiences.
Rudyard Kipling and the “Ballad of East & West”
Rudyard Kipling is considered one of the most famous names in poetry. He was also a renowned author with several works under his belt, but he is perhaps best known for his poem The Ballad of East & West.
This poem reflects the author’s strong feelings about gambling and wagering, with Kipling urging all to eschew the evils of gambling in favor of a life devoted to religion. The play was written in 1889 at a time when much criticism was directed at the bookmakers operating at British racecourses and cricket grounds; In the 1889 season, many racecourses were closed for this reason.
This poem is considered a work that really captures the feeling of being involved in gambling. It’s almost as if Kipling was able to reach into his soul and use his poetry to unleash all his emotions, which were certainly gambling related.
Oscar Wildes “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”
Perhaps one of the most famous pieces of literature written as a result of a gambling experience is Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad Of Reading Gaol. This poem was first published in 1898 and remains one of the world’s most famous pieces of prison literature.
This piece of poetry is related to gambling as Wilde was originally investigated for gambling fraud. 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 parole. 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 unfortunate 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 may be related to his love of gambling. The author was a regular visitor to casinos and betting shops throughout his life, particularly during his time in Paris. But he was also an avid gambler in the more traditional sense of the word; It is believed that Wilde loved to gamble at horse racing and cricket matches with some of his closest friends.
James Joyce “The dead”
Poets like James Joyce, who was also a heavy gambler, turned to gambling as inspiration for their writings.
In his short story “The Dead” there is a scene where Gabriel Conroy and the other partygoers are trying to play cards with Mr. Browne when he suddenly throws all his money on the table. Joyce used his gambling experience to write most of the scenes in The Dead.
Charles Bukowski and “The Bookworm”
A poem that did not make it into the Crucifix in a Deathhand: Poems 1987-1990 collection, but is quoted here from the Notes for Future Works collected in 1993.
The poem begins with an epigraph by Wild Bill Hickok – who was shot dead after a game of poker – and then explores what it means to be a poet, particularly one who writes poetry devoted to gambling.
Charles Baudelaires “Flowers of Evil”
Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil has been called “the most immoral book ever published”.
One of his most famous lines comes from a poem dedicated to gambling, Le Jeu (The Game). This poem is full of allusions to gambling and paints a picture of life as the devil’s game.
It also pays homage to the fact that gambling has always been one of man’s greatest and closest pleasures.
Gambling has been a significant influence throughout literary history. It seems that great writers are drawn to it like moths to a flame; Gambling is such an alluring and intriguing subject that it often inspires truly thought-provoking writing.
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