Hearken, now, and listen close; I have so much to tell.
Now lend an ear and do your job; you surely will excel.
To find my hidden message, gaze on every word herein.
While skimming through it might be fast, you'll miss the quiet gem.

How vitally important are the details of this verse;
examining them closely is the task to take on first.
And once they've been digested, one may feel the need to snooze;
now please reject that feeling and keep minding p's and q's.

Time and time again, you need to squelch the urge to rush.
I know that if you get too lax, you'll miss some clues and such.
So look at each word carefully; just read them one-by-one.
My friend, if every word's perused, your work is almost done!

I know that all this vigilance may start to vex or chafe.
So here's a hint to help you out and keep you feeling safe:
Some people say that punctuation rules are absolute.
Ill-use of them is abject and quite low, there's no dispute.

Now, as you keep perusing, you may find a common theme.
Getting down and dirty is the answer, it may seem.
Find every hidden message in the fine points of the text.
Rush to do your job, and quiz specific aspects next.

Oh, lazy folk will squawk at grammar law misapplication,
giving strong opinions of strict laws of punctuation.
Many nix all joy in words, subscribing to this faction;
in point of fact you might say it's a capital infraction.

Every word's important in this lengthy, rambling prose.
Altering just one could lose the message that's enclosed;
please examine hard and quick the verbiage herein.
'Cause every word's important to the puzzle that it's in.

Here's the quest that's put before you, puzzler and chum:
locate the mystery unknown; to languor don't succumb.
Search through all the text to see what's shrouded here among
the words you may enjoy or may prefer to leave unsung.

Thus far, you'll think not much was said about this work's solution;
so you'll obtain it straight right now, without any dilution:
you want a pair of words portraying you, my puzzling buddy!
And no quick fix can find it! No, just vim and lots of study!

Zest is what you'll have to have as these two words you seek;
as said before, the phrase describes a quirky puzzle geek;
just make a guess, go check your work; you'll see if it is right;
for after all, it's sure that you'll excel; you're very bright!

As fin'lly this verbose creation's coming to a close,
please acquiesce to take my thanks for suff'ring through my prose --
my urge to wax poetic may be tiresome to some,
but still, it's rather jazzy, if your brain is not yet numb.

What two-word phrase is hidden in the poem above?

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Wow, awesome puzzle and poem $\endgroup$
    – TacoV
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 8:59
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Wow, looking at the solution, this must be a very time consuming puzzle-creation process. A great one! +1 $\endgroup$
    – justhalf
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 13:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is amazing! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 15:18
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @justhalf It took me a few hours last night. I had the help of a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary, and lists of Q, J, and Z words. I used Excel to set up formulas that would show me what letters were not in my text -- it caught a few instances where I included a letter by accident, and had to rejig my text. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 15:20
  • 18
    $\begingroup$ I want to specifically compliment you on your meter. Many of the poems on this site (including some of mine) have pretty bad rhythm, but this poem is impeccably timed. I wish I could upvote it twice! $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


The two word phrase hidden quite cleverly in this long passage is


Which I reckon I am! :-D

This word was hidden in this puzzle in the following way:

In each stanza of four lines, all the letters of the alphabet are present, except one. In the first, P is missing. In the second, U is missing. Continuing to determine each missing letter gave me the string PUZZLEFIEND. It was easy to figure out the phrase PUZZLE FIEND from that.

The lines that gave it away were

In the third stanza:

So look at each word carefully; just read them one-by-one.
My friend, if every word's perused, your work is almost done!

And in the seventh stanza:

Every word's important in this lengthy, rambling prose.
Altering just one could lose the message that's enclosed;

An additional hint that I missed. Thanks Sabre for finding the clue that was craftily embedded into the puzzle

The "capital infraction" phrase in the puzzle was a big giveaway. All the capitalized letters in the puzzle spell out HINT WHAT IS MISSING FROM EACH STANZA.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Indeed, You are :D $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 9:32
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ I found the second stanza especially difficult, since I had to include Q without U. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 12:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It was telling me to look at every word, so I deliberately didn't, instead trying reading the first letter of each line. I noticed some weren't in caps, tried reading all that WERE in caps, and with that clue, just Ctrl-F'd and searched for letters (with "highlight all" checked). Starting backwards in the alphabet immediately got me the first word, and verifying the remaining letters of that got me one letter of the next. I then tried some vowels, which got me word 2. My half-assed path to solution doesn't seem worthy of the work spent creating such an artful puzzle :( $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 23:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GentlePurpleRain: Add your comment in ROT13. Seeing it just gave out the major hint. $\endgroup$
    – user27395
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 15:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ArkaKarmakar It's always been my opinion that if you are perusing the comments on an answer, you are not too concerned about spoilers. The spoilers in an answer exists so that if someone finishes reading the question, and the answer is right below, they don't accidentally view an answer. If you are actively reading the comments on an answer, you should be expecting spoilers. And I hate ROT13 comments. They're a pain to decode. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 18:02

Wrap-up: The Making Of Hearken now, and listen close

This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.

CAUTION: This post contains spoilers for the puzzle.

Being familiar with


I thought it would be fun to create a puzzle containing them. I thought I could create a story where each paragraph

left out a certain letter,

and those letters combined to provide the solution.

But then I realized that, especially with less-common letters, it wouldn't always be obvious

which letter was being excluded.

This led me to the realization that every paragraph would have to

contain every letter of the alphabet, except the one being excluded.

Being an aficionado of rhyme and poetry, I decided to create the puzzle in verse.

I initially thought that the puzzle might be too difficult without any hints, so I decided to build a hint into the puzzle by making the

first letter of every line combine to provide the hint.

Partway through, I realized that would be too difficult, so instead I just made it

all the uppercase letters,

which proved to be a little more manageable.

I came up with a phrase that I thought would be a good solution to the puzzle, and then got to work.

I found some online resources, including:

  • A rhyming dictionary
  • (this was useful in helping to find rhymes to complete each stanza)
  • A thesaurus
  • (this was useful when I needed a word, but it contained the "forbidden" letter; I used a synonym without that letter instead)
  • Lists of words containing Q, X, Z, and J (these were helpful in finding not-too-obscure words that would "use up" these letters so that I could get every letter into the stanza)(words like "just, enjoy, equal, quiet, quite, quick, fix, text, excel, lazy, gaze, puzzle)

  • I set up a spreadsheet in Excel that would

    count the number of each letter in a paragraph, and tell me which letters did not yet appear.

    Then I started composing the rhymes. I was somewhat constrained by the requirement to

    have the uppercase letters spell out the hint,

    but I could be a little flexible in that regard by abusing punctuation -- especially semi-colons.

    I didn't have a clear idea of what the poem was going to contain when I began -- I just kind of "winged it." I noticed after about 4 stanzas that the subject matter was becoming a little redundant, so I started trying to change it up a little, by leaving some oblique hints.

    When beginning each new stanza, I tried to

    get a number of words containing less-common letters like J, Q, V, X, and Z

    into the first couple of lines, so that I wasn't struggling to

    cram too many letters in at the end.

    When I got to the second stanza, I realized I had a challenge ahead of me, because I needed to

    include every letter except U, which means I needed to figure out a way to get Q in there without an accompanying U. There are a few words that have Q without U, but none is particularly common, and they would stick out like a sore thumb.

    I eventually came up with the idea of

    referring to the letter itself, in the common phrase, "mind your P's and Q's."

    I think it worked out quite well.

    It probably took about 4 hours over the course of an evening to construct all 11 stanzas. I revised things several times until I was satisfied with the content, metre, and rhymes.

    I learned afterward that I didn't need to build the hint into the puzzle (although I still think it added something to the puzzle). It was originally solved without the hint, which was only discovered after the fact. People on this site are good! (Although in retrospect, it probably wasn't as hard as I thought, either.)

    • $\begingroup$ What would you have done if there two "U" 's were needed ? $\endgroup$
      – user27395
      Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 13:01
    • $\begingroup$ @ArkaKarmakar I probably would have found a different phrase to use as the solution. :) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 28, 2016 at 15:17
    • $\begingroup$ Can you add an explanation of "So here's a hint to help you out and keep you feeling safe: / Some people say that punctuation rules are absolute. / Ill-use of them is abject and quite low, there's no dispute."? How does the reference to punctuation rules provide a hint? $\endgroup$
      – msh210
      Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 10:24
    • $\begingroup$ @msh210 I just saw your comment now; not sure how I missed it. I mention above that I "abused" the rules of punctuation a little (e.g. using semicolons instead of full stops) so that I could put the uppercase letters where I needed them for the hint. If someone examined the punctuation closely, I imagine they might wonder, "Why did he put a semicolon there instead of a full stop?", which might lead them to look at the places where there is a full stop, which is where the uppercase letters spell out the hint. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 16:00

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