From Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems:

Last, he with muscle as big as his voice, the strength of him
in that blizzard
to have pulled the trawl slack from the very bottom and released
his mate from the cod-hook had him out, and almost off,
into the snow. It wasn’t that there was so much sea. It was the cold,
and that white, until over the dory went and the two of them,
one still,
were in. The wild thing was, he made the vessel, three miles, and fetched her,
found that vessel in all that weather, with his fellow dead weight
on him. The sort of eye
which later knew the Peak of Brown’s
as though it were his own garden (as Bowditch brought the Eppie Sawyer
spot to her wharf a Christmas morning)

from Letter 2.

And the self-correction, in Letter 15:

It goes to show you. It was not the “Eppie Sawyer”. It was the ship “Putnam”. It wasn’t Christmas morning, it was Christmas night, after dark. And the violent north-easter, with snow, which we were all raised to believe did show Bowditch such a navigator, was a gale sprung up from W. hit them outside the Bay, and had blown itself out by the 23rd.

On the 25th it was fog Bowditch had to contend with. The wind was NE allright, but there is no mention of snow[…]

He sd, “You go all around the subject.” And I sd, “I didn’t know it was a subject.” He sd, “You twist” and I sd, “I do.” He said other things. And I didn’t say anything.

(Exit Olson, enter Languagehat.) Facts are hard to come by, and we all twist, but it’s refreshing that he took the trouble to straighten it out, no? (Exit, pursued by a postmodernist.)


  1. Love the feel of these words >trawl slack and cod-hook.

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