STEM, tanka

Becalmed — Then and Now

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Strictly speaking, this post is not a response to Becalmed ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #91 because I used neither the challenge photo nor an image that I made.  By posting after the challenge closed, I hope to acknowledge the inspiration w/o having a pingback look too much like a bungled response.

For sailors on the open sea in the past, to be becalmed was always a hardship and sometimes a disaster, as described in Goethe’s poem Meerestille (or Calm Sea).  I got the image and English translation dislayed in this post from a website celebrating German Romantic literature.  U can read another English translation of Goethe’s poem here.

My tanka expresses yesterday’s fears in today’s language.


Becalmed in Olden Times
|Viking longships moved
|with oars pulled by aching arms.
|Oarless ships stood still.
|Oarless crews waited for wind,
|while food and water ran low.

As the photo and poem in the challenge so aptly illustrate, to be becalmed can be a pleasant experience nowadays.  Admire the crescent moon and furl the sails.  Start the engine and head for home.  Be confident of getting there.

My tanka expresses yesterday’s fears in today’s language, lest we forget how high we have climbed and how far we could fall, in technology if not in poetry.