Monday, August 26, 2013

Norman Rosten

George Annand's drawing for the endpapers of Norman Rosten's The Big Road [George Annand, 1946]

from Norman Rosten's The Big Road:

Big road coming
Don’t you hear that sound
Bulldozers smashing
Through rock and ground

Start from Canada
Go way up past Tanan
Glory road building
Called the Alcan

Pick her up boys
Try her on for size
Boston to Omaha
As the crow flies

She’s a high-rolling baby
With the right of way
Not much to look at
But here to stay

Call her the oil-can highway
Call her sweat and mud highway
Call her sweet-Jesus highway
That’s the one . . .

Wheel turning, not upon stone but saga,
Endlessly between the dead and the living.
Rider, you have begun long ago.

From coasts which knew Ulysses’ oars,
Compulsion of commerce, stirring of migrations,
And how man did move upon the surface of his world.

From out of the groin of Asia, the savage tribes
Crossing an isthmus, spill down the hemisphere,
Their paths enlarged and leading to many wonders.

Like Janus with his faces, be multiple,
O rider as you journey between cities
Hear the thunder of wheels on the hard Appian,

Lanes connecting, the myth of miles,
Can you hear the hooves of the caravan:
Listen to eras sing beneath your tires!

Navel of earth
                       feed back
                                        origin and order . . .

           From a given point on a straight line
           to erect a perpendicular
To plot outside of the natural contour,
Raised from the ground.
                                    From a point outside
                    a straight line to drop a perpendicular
                    to the line
                                    Given the earth’s surface,
Problem to secure a right angle . . .
                                                       To survey.

Groma, instrument to align a distant point.
Ferramentum, the iron part which supports;
Stellata, the square frame resting upon it,
Carrying the names of the four directions;
Four lines from these points suspended,
Becoming plumb lines, the true vertical of sight;
From its center a fifth line touching the ground,
Vertex of angle laid upon the land.

           Having balanced the ferramentum,
           you drop from the center a perpendicular
           to the point of the stone.” (NIPSUS)

Norman Rosten, Hedda Rosten [Cursum Perficio]

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