Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 42: Numerology


Here's a quirky and cool little poem based on the 'say what you see' technique. Who would have thought numbers to be so interesting?? 

I especially love the descriptions of number 2 - 'a question seated' and number 7, 'a step detached from its stair.' Of course! That's exactly what they conjure up!

This was one of the first poems I studied in a poetry module at university - to show that poetry can be exciting and original and take anything for subject-matter. Here is a poem that proves the great improvising space of the imagination, the mathematics of precise description and the endless possibilities of originality.

Read it and marvel at the ingenuity.

Cardinal Ideograms - May Swenson

0    A mouth.   Can blow or breathe,
      be a funnel, or Hello.

1    A grass blade or a cut.

2    A question seated.   And a proud
      bird's neck.

3    Shallow mitten for two-fingered hand.

4    Three-cornered hut
      on one stilt.   Sometimes built
      so the roof gapes.

5    A policeman.   Polite.
      Wearing visored cap.

6    O unrolling,
      tape of ambiguous length
      on which is written the mystery
      of everything curly.

7    A step,
      detached from its stair.

8    The universe in diagram:
      A cosmic hourglass.
      (Note enigmatic shape,
      absence of any value of origin,
      how end overlaps beginning.)
      Unknotted like a shoelace
      and whipped back and forth,
      can serve as a model of time.

9    Lorgnette for the right eye.
      In England or if you are Alice
      the stem is on the left.

10   A grass blade or a cut
      companioned by a mouth.
      Open?   Open.   Shut?   Shut.

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