Sunday, December 20, 2009

"By stubborn,Stars we steer" : much depends on a comma

The famous American poet , William Carlos Williams ("The Red Wheelbarrel"), never actually said "much depends on a comma", but he might have, had he seen my haiku-like poem (above).

Due to the technical requirements of URLs and of blog tags, I can't actually put the correctly written-out poem in my Dawson project's URLs or in an Arcadian Recorder blog tag.

Instead it comes out, uncapitalized and minus the all important comma, as "by stubborn stars we steer".

The implied sense is "by stubborn stars" "we steer" .

Totally,totally, totally wrong.

It all begins to sound like Nova Scotia poet Kenneth Leslie's most famous poem ----- "By Stubborn Stars" .

"I shall sail by stubborn stars". He is saying,' shoals look out, I won't be re-directed and if I must drown as a result so be it'.

Poetry yes, but not, to my mind, poetry with the subtle restraint of haiku, where the reader's mind must fill in the gaps.

But my poem is not a 'in-your-face' haiku either :
"By being stubborn, Stars we will steer" - slapping you on the shoulder, shouting 'get it ? get it ?'
I think it is a fitting poem to sum up the spirit that drove Dawson and his tiny Manhattan Pilot project team, from 1940 to 1945 and onward to the final widespread acceptance of his pioneering vision.

(Though that complete acceptance did not come until after Dawson's tragically early death in April '45).


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