B. Franklin and the Kite


Source: The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology, 1840 


First a rumble

grumbling in the night,

then a crack, the light

jagged and brightly-white

zig-zagging, where the kite

with hemp strands and key

conducts electricity–

a sight to see,

but from afar—


(check the jar)


this experiment of wonder,

science, lighting, and thunder.


A  quadrille (a poem of 44 words) for dVerse where De asked us to use the word “crack.” If you don’t know anything about Benjamin Franklin’s experiment, here are the details from the Franklin Institute—it includes a passage from his article in the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He actually electrified the hemp from the charged air, not directly from the lightning, but poetic license. 😉









40 thoughts on “B. Franklin and the Kite

  1. I can see this as part of a book telling history with poetry, which you are so good at doing. Illustrated with historical documents like this one.
    I know you can fit that into your schedule. (K)

    • Thanks, Frank. Yes, it’s definitely dangerous, although he didn’t actually do it the way it’s typically depicted. I’m a historian, not a scientist, but it was a Leyden jar, which has metal inside to hold the charges. . .

  2. Merril, absolutely BRILLIANT use of sound and line breaks here, two of my favorite poetic tools. That “(check the jar)” is just wonderful. I completely agree that a book of history poems might be in order. So so good.

  3. Franklin inspired a lot of poetic license as his exploits have been retold- he was quite a character. He invoked his license as well, he and Poor Richard. I assume the reference to the jar is a reference to his lesser legendary accounts of his experiments with electricity.
    What a surprising and summative/informative/historical take on the prompt!

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