Ode to Potassium

I uncovered this little poem in a stack of old writings. It was written my sophomore year of high school, in Chemistry, and I believe the assignment was to create an artistic tribute to an element. Mine was potassium. I decided to write a poem in heightened tone, a blend of Monty Python and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The resultant weirdness is below.

Ode to Potassium

O Potassium, Potassium, shining bright
Metallic, clean and silvery-white.

You’re abundant in nature, to my delight
In feldspar, saltepeter, and carnallite.

Your symbol is ‘K’, so tall and noble.
It’s a good thing that you’re insoluble.

Discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy,
Your surface is flat; it is not wavy.

You can be cut with a knife,
Though you cause no pain or strife.

In olden days, you were used in barter.
Today you’re used for cream of tartar.

You clean so well, I say with glee,
You’re also used in photography.

And now my ode has come to an end.
So farewell, Potassium, my mineral friend.

Save a Stanza – Adopt a Poet Today

I have been enjoying this excellent and comprehensive site quite a bit lately, gorging myself on Dickinson and Burns and Keats and Shelley and Byron and Tennyson and Poe and Plath and Browning and more Dickinson, etc.

It’s easy to browse, for poetry nerds and novices alike. It has biographies and photos and articles and audio of poems.

This is perhaps the time, dear reader, when I should confess my secret.

I love words…to an absurd degree, really.

I will sift through the available word options in my head until I find the word that has the most nuanced meaning, the best sound and texture and color. I will select this word with the utmost care, garb it in all its gleaming perfection of context, and then gently release it to the world like a baby sparrow into the sky…where it promptly face-plants onto the pavement.

“What?” is usually the response, though I also enjoy the frequent “huh?” or blank stare. Words, the basis for human communication, tend to be useless when seldom used. I will continue the fight though, blindly blithe in my optimism that one day I will speak and be understood.

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post which is to champion poet adoption. Perhaps you love Carl Sandburg or Langston Hughes, or maybe “Howl” stirs you or “Ode to a Grecian Urn”. This site is run by a non-profit, the Academy of American Poets; they have developed an ingenious fund-raising idea.

You can select your favorite poet and for a mere $30/year (roughly $0.08 cents a day), your name and city of origin will be listed on that poet’s biography page. Now how to narrow down?

I can only adopt one this year, but doubtless more will call out to me. The poetry books on my shelf glare at me in mute entreaty – how shall I choose?

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story;
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O, hark, O, hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going!
O, sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying,
Blow, bugles; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river;
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow forever and forever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

-The Splendor Falls, Lord Alfred Tennyson