MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XVIII No. 5
May / June 2006
Meritocracy and a Diverse Faculty
A Brief History and Workings
of the MIT Corporation
Committees of the Faculty:
An End-of-Year Recap
Lippard and Sharp Awarded
National Medal of Science
Energy Research Council and Forum:
A Major New Institute Initiative
Efficient Use of Energy:
Part of MIT's New Energy Initiative
Fueling Our Transportation Future
Lighting a Fire in MIT's
Undergradute Education
Some Thoughts on the Arts
Reflections on the "Visualizing Cultures" Incident
On the "Visualizing Cultures" Controversy and its Implications
Communication Requirement
Evaluation Process Begins
A Modest Proposal:
A Dental Insurance Plan for All Students
New Resource on Faculty Website:
"Current Practices"
"Soft Skills" to Help Avoid the "Hard Knocks"
Computer Space Planning for MIT
Tops IT-SPARCC's Priority List
Seniors Report Increased Satisfaction
with Faculty Interaction
Smart Buy Purchasing Initiative
Primary Form of Support
for Doctoral Students
Printable Version

MIT Poetry


Anthony Lioi

Stir-crazy noctiluca,
the dinoflagellate as night-light,
enlightens a summer solstice
as I churn the cold Atlantic
and Harp, Aquila, and the Swan
illuminate the island’s rocks.

Maine is full of island-rocks
to host a hunt for noctiluca;
scattered feathers of the Swan
fallen in its night-light,
they float in the cold Atlantic
unhurried by seal or solstice.

Plotting equinox and solstice
to drown schoolboys in the rocks
of sunken cities, cold Atlantic
sweeps the shining noctiluca
to my hands, a night-light
rivaling suns in the Swan.

I do not need the Swan
as totem of my solstice;
many beasts of night-light
instruct the hundred rocks
harboring the alga noctiluca
from death’s pull in the Atlantic.

There is no drowned Atlantic
town ruled by the Swan;
principalities of noctiluca
dance at the water-solstice,
heedless of the darkened rocks,
to mark the reign of night-light.

True patron of knight-light
in the luminous Atlantic,
I would brave many rocks,
the crucifixion of the Swan,
to see you manifest at solstice,
Lady of Waters, Noctiluca.

When chanted rocks draw light
from Noctiluca, the Atlantic
calls me, errant swan, to her solstice.


\Noc`ti*lu"ca\, n.; pl.Noctilucae. [L. noctiluca “something that shines by night,”
from nox, noctis, night + lucere, to shine, lux light.]
     1. (Old Chem.) That which shines at night; -- a fanciful name for phosphorus.
     2. (Zool.) A genus of marine flagellate Infusoria, remarkable for their unusually
large size and complex structure, as well as for their phosphorescence. The brilliant
diffuse phosphorescence of the sea is often due to myriads of Noctilucae.
                                            –Webster’s Dictionary (1913)

Note: This poem is a Sestina. Click here to learn more about this form.

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