J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

“O Silent night shows war ace danger!”

This is a semi-famous sonnet by David Shulman titled “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Can you see what’s notable about it?

A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
“How cold!” Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general’s action wish’d “Go!”
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands—sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens—winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can’t lose war with ’s hands in;
He’s astern—so go alight, crew, and win!
Every line—that’s every line—is an anagram of the phrase “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” Yet Shulman still managed to produce couplets and a semblance of sense, though I must admit that metre fell overboard.

5 comments:

Rob Velella said...

The rhyme scheme is also all wrong for a sonnet!

Peter Fisk said...

Noel gatecrasher with gonads wins!

DebbieLynne said...

Still, it's clever, and more than I would attempt!

J. L. Bell said...

Rob, I’m giving the poet the benefit of the doubt and considering this in “Shulmanean sonnet” form to go along with Petrarchan, Spenserian, Shakespearean, etc.

But I suppose one could simply rearrange lines to make ABAB CDCD EFGEFG.

J. L. Bell said...

Excellent work, Peter!