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Short poem

Phyllis Gotlieb (1926-)


              1Mercator a map
              2maker a shaper
              3of great currents of
              4continents on paper

              5seen from whatever
              6angle resembled
              7a tangle of embryos
              8half-formed reassembled

              9near strangled by
            10circulus equinoctialis
            11tropicus capricorni, swaddling
            12bands of a terra infantilis

            13born out of theodolite
            15and the declivity of
            16faint constellation

            17grown to surprising
            18stature? on paper
            19by nature a proper


1] Gerhardus Mercator (1512-94), Latinized name of the Flemish geographer, Gerhard Kremer, whose planisphere, published in 1568 (termed "Mercator's Projection"), set the lines of longitude at right angles to the lines of latitude and so improved the art of navigation.

10] circulus equinoctialis: the equator.

11] tropicus capricorni: the Tropic of Capricorn, that latitude about 23.5 degrees south of the equator, the farthest southerly parallel at which the sun appears directly overhead.

12] terra infantilis: the earth, unable to speak.

13] theodolite: surveying instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles.

15] declivity: descending inclination.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Copyright 2002 Red Blood Black Ink White Paper Exile Editions
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Phyllis Gotlieb, Red Blood, Black Ink, White Paper: new and selected poems, 1961-2001 (Toronto: Exile Editions, 2002): 24. PS 8513.O77R33 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1964
Publication date note: Within the Zodiac (1964).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/1/11

Form: quatrains
Rhyme: abcb

Other poems by Phyllis Gotlieb