Poetry Corner: David Shulman
One of the iconic images of the American Revolution was actually painted 75 years later: “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” painted by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze in 1851, shows George Washington leading his troops in boats across the Delaware River, in preparation for a Christmas surprise attack on Hessian mercenaries camped out near Trenton, in what is now New Jersey, in 1776.
In the 1930s, poet David Shulman was moved by the painting to write a sonnet. Now, the form of the sonnet is difficult enough. Shulman made his own task all the harder by making each line of the sonnet an anagram of the title. Yes, the result is not necessarily great poetry, and sometimes descends to doggerel. Still, one has to applaud Shulman for actually pulling it off at all – much as Washington is to be praised for pulling off his daring surprise attack.
Washington Crossing the Delaware
A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
"How cold!" Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general's action wish'd "Go!"
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands - sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens - winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can't lose war with's hands in;
He's astern - so go alight, crew, and win!