Wednesday, October 1, 2014

MOOC ModPo Bonus Feature: "Malachite" by Gertrude Stein

Songs of Eretz Poetry Reivew is pleased to present a MOOC ModPo bonus feature, "Malachite" by Gertrude Stein.  The poem was first published in Tender Buttons in 1914 and is in the public domain and therefore legally reprinted here.

Gertrude Stein

     The sudden spoon is the same in no size.  The sudden
spoon is the wound in the decision.

Commentary:  Malachite is copper carbonate hydroxide, a semi-precious stone remarkable for its unique light and dark concentric bands  The eye tends to follow the patterns of the bands in the same way that a navigator might follow a contour map.  

Map readers and navigators appreciate knowing which direction is north.  "Spoon" refers to a part of the constellation Ursa Major known as the Big Dipper, which can be used to find the North Star.  The spoon-shaped pattern of stars may appear all of a "sudden," as when the stars come out or clouds that were obscuring them move out of the way--hence "the sudden spoon."  The Big Dipper is reliable and will always appear "the same."  It does not matter that the stars that make up the constellation are so far away that they appear to be small points of light of almost "no size."

"Wound" here is used as the past participle of "wind" as in "to wind up somewhere."  So, the sudden appearance of the Big Dipper will help a navigator or map reader make "the decision" as to where he will wind up.  The Big Dipper also may be thought of as being "wound" up or bound up in the decision of where to go. 

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