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.

etymology

 

The Elizabethan age was the age of the sonnet, a compact fixed verse form written in iambic pentameter, a metrical foot that captures the beating of the human heart da DA, da DA and consists of three quatrains (four-line clusters) and a couplet (two lines). It was in the Elizabethan Age that the sonnet landed in England and flourished, with William Shakespeare becoming its most luminous practitioner.

The sonnet has endured and prevailed because it exerts tremendous pressure per square syllable and accomplishes a great deal in a small space. The compactness of the form radiates pleasure not for itself but for what it can do to shape and share the hum and buzz of life.

This past Monday evening, on the Shiley stage at the Old Globe, a number of local celebrities performed in the 16th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. In addition to the imaginative interpretations that the performers sang, danced and acted, the evening honored the life and work of the distinguished oceanographer Walter Munk, who will reach 100 years of age this coming Wednesday. He lives in La Jolla with his wife Mary in a home called Seiche, a name that signifies a wave that sways back and forth. Walter and Mary have been long-time supporters of the San Diego Shakespeare Society, and Seiche is the setting wherein each year we celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

Dr. Munk was at the center of the Golden Age of exploration and research that 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, a truly abysmal enterprise, and he was the first to show rigorously why one side of the moon always faces earth. 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.”

Recognizing Walter Munk’s colossal contributions to human understanding, I composed a sonnet for the special evening of Celebrity Sonnets. I work within the vessel of the classic rhyme scheme of the Shakespearean sonnet 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 comedy “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
            on His 100th Birthday

We come to praise one Walter Heinrich Munk,
Who turns one hundred in just ten short days.
He dove into the ocean went kerplunk!
And found life deep, beyond all human gaze.

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 sea and leapt up to the skies.
And that is why he won the Crafoord Prize,
Awarded for the pearls that are his eyes.

He caught the waves, the surf, and tidal motion
This Munk, this Galileo of the ocean!

*****

Yesterday was Friday the 13th . If you’re a trifle queasy about years, days and hotel floors that include the number 13, you are displaying triskaidekaphobia, cobbled together from the Greek word parts tris, “three” + kai, “and” + deka, “ten” + phobia, “fear.”