Blog Post

Pomes Bitcoineach

Graphics by Michelle Jia : Image Flickr ( I 


“Money is a kind of poetry.” —Wallace Stevens

“Poetry is a kind of money.” —Kay Ryan

“Money is memory.” —Narayana R. Kocherlakota

“Money was not time.” —James Merrill

“Money, by providing an intermediate level of information between memory and no memory, gives rise to an equilibrium outcome that cannot arise under either memory or no-memory. —Yu Awaya and Hiroki Fukai

I am writing to explain
To those who like this kind of thing
The sweet incentives of blockchain.

What kind of thing? Well if you bring
A taste for versatility                                             5
To what you read or write or sing,

Then dig: it’s like a poem really,
A crystallizing propagation.
If rhyme’s some poems’ currency

Blockchain is money’s rhyme, inflation-             10
Proof, while marking passing time
Through lines that, vectored like narration,

Distribute meaning into rhyme.
As readers mine linguistic ore,
Guessing rhymes first's just sublime —    15

Anticipating more and more
The content form will make its own,
So cryptominers solve a core

Equation — so that those who hone
Their skills at finding wealth create it,                 20
Make cash, which like a fossil bone,

Records the process that will date it.
As each rhyme puts more rhyme in play,
Until the whole network seems fated,

So too a blockchain’s records lay                       25
A matrix down, like terza rima,
That marks down payments and will pay,

As much as anyone could dream, a
Fee that finds and founds the future,
Unfolding in this golden schema.                      30

Its own reward adds to the structure,
Propelling value down a chain....
But if you lose the thread, you’re fucked, your

Ice-nine diamond coal again.



Title  The Italian means: "The Sweet New Coins"

l. 3 sweet  Compare "Dolce stile nuovo" in Purgatorio XXIV: 27

l. 6 sing  Possibly an echo of a line in Philip Larkin's (1922-85) "Money": "I listen to money singing."

l. 7 dig  Hipster slang for "listen and understand," with an obvious pun on digging as mining, and a possible reference to a poem by Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) called "Digging," which is about writing poetry as a kind of mining.

l. 15 guessing...first Part of the pleasure of terza rima and many other forms with triple rhymes, according to Professor Münzen of LMU.  The best examples in English might found in limericks, as in the well known example: "There once was a man from Nantucket," to which line 33 is perhaps an allusion.

l. 34 Ice-nine diamond  Unexplained, though perhaps a reference to the reduplicating triplets of terza rima.  As is well-known, there is no perfectly elegant way to end a terza rima poem, since the middle line of every tercet is unrhymed until another tercet is added to it, which means that every tercet requires a successor.  When a terza rima poem ends with a single line, as here, you get the effect of a sudden collapse in the propagation of the poem.

William Flesch is the author, most recently, of Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction (Harvard, 2008), and The Facts on File Companion to 19th Century British Literature.  He teaches the history of poetry as well as the theory of poetic and narrative form at Brandeis, and has been International Chair Professor at the National Taipei University of Technology (2012) and Old Dominion Fellow of the Humanities Council and Visiting Professor at Princeton (2014-15).