Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

Richard Lederer

This past February 8, Walter Munk, arguably the world’s greatest oceanographer, shuffled off his mortal coil at the age of 101 and made his last dive into what William Shakespeare called the “unpathed waters.”

Dr, Munk was at the epicenter of the Golden Age of exploration and research, which transformed the Scripps Institute of Oceanography from a diminutive marine station into one of the world’s pre-eminent oceanographic entities. His deep-water expeditions uncovered a hitherto undiscovered world of life, and his brilliant observations of waves, ocean temperature, tidal energy in the deep and ocean acoustics were pathbreaking. He charted the rotation of the earth and was the first to show rigorously why one side of the moon always faces us.

In 2010, Walter Munk was awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences “for his pioneering and fundamental contributions to our understanding of ocean circulation, tides and waves and their role in the Earth’s dynamics.”

Walter Munk lived in La Jolla with his wife Mary in a home called Seiche (saysh), a name that signifies a standing wave that sways back and forth. Walter and Mary have been long-time supporters of the San Diego Shakespeare Society and have graciously opened their home and grounds each year so that we could celebrate the Bard’s birthday, as will be the case tomorrow.

Recognizing Walter Munk’s colossal contributions to human understanding, I have composed and will read at the celebration a sonnet about the great man. I work within the brief compass of the classic Shakespearean sonnet rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg but in the third quatrain of my poem, I employ a single rhyme and allude to Ariel’s song in Shakespeare’s last play, “The Tempest”:

Full fathom five thy father lies.

Of his bones are coral made.

Those are pearls that were his eyes.

Nothing of him that doth fade,

But doth suffer a sea-change

Into something rich and strange.

 

A Sonnet Honoring Walter Munk

We come to praise one Walter Heinrich Munk,

Who left us an epiphanous sea change.

He dove into the ocean went kerplunk!

And found life deep, beyond all human range.

 

He bravely launched deep-water expeditions,

Exploring vasty deeps and all their features:

Vents hydro-thermal, bubbly emissions,

And strange, exotic, otherworldly creatures.

 

Full fathom five the mind of Walter lies.

He plumbed the seas and leapt up to the skies.

And that is why he won the Crafoord Prize,

Awarded for the pearls that were his eyes.

 

He caught the waves, the surf and tidal motion

This Munk, this Galileo of the ocean!

***

What do these six sentences have in common?:

Has Will a peer, I ask me.

I swear he’s like a lamp.

We all make his praise.

Wise male. Ah, I sparkle!

Hear me, as I will speak. 

Ah, I speak a swell rime. 

Each is an anagram that uses all the letters in the name William Shakespeare and captures a luminous truth: Peerless Will Shakespeare shines through the centuries and inspires our praise.

I’m pleased to report that I’ll be emceeing one of the five open-air stages at the San Diego Student Shakespeare Festival on Saturday, April 20, noon-3:30 pm on the Prado in Balboa Park. Come join me as America’s Finest City raises the Bard.

Sponsored by the San Diego Shakespeare Society, hundreds of students will perform scenes, music and dance from William Shakespeare’s astonishing works. Trust me: these youngsters don’t just read Shakespeare; they become his characters. For more info, click sandiegoshakespearesociety.org. Admission is free and worth every ducat.