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.

1 comment:

I'd love to hear what you think! To leave a comment - comment as/sign in with your Google ID if you have one, or website or blog address, or if these don't apply, sign in as Anonymous, and leave your name if you like!