Sunday, 18 March 2012

Kelson / Keelson

I was on Friday night introduced to a new word by the poet Martyn Crucefix.  That word was 'kelson'.  Martyn got it from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself. 'Kelson' means

A line of timber placed inside a ship along the floor-timbers and parallel with the keel, to which it is bolted, so as to fasten the floor-timbers and the keel together. [OED]

Whitman uses it metaphorically, beautifully, in the phrase "a kelson of the creation is love".  For more of a context, it features in a short essay on Whitman by the American poet Robert Hass, to be found here.

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