· 6 May 2016 ·
Guess what this is.
A bronze golf ball? You’re half right.
Clue: the dimples are numbered from 1 to 154. Any help?
How about a #18 pun: Shall I compare thee to a sonnets die?
It’s a Sonnets Die. It’s amazing. 8 cm in diameter, or 3.15 inches. (Practically π.) It’s lucky that I wrote an even number of sonnets – one more or less would have bolloxed the whole thing up. The maths-geek in me knows that each pair of directly opposing numbers adds to 155.
The polished bronze die above, as well as others in different materials and colors (and prices – just a few are shown below), were made via 3-D design and printing, by Matthew Cornelisse. He calls this design D154. You can find D154 dice for sale on this page at Matthew’s Shapeways shop. He makes many other dice also. They’re beautiful.
3-D printing. Just think of it. Gutenberg’s 2-D printer had only been around for about a century when I was born. (There was no Moore’s Law back then. The pace of change was so. much. slower.) Believe me when I tell you, the printing press was the internet.
Portable Document Format v1.0.
The woodcut was made in 1568, when I was eighteen.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
So why would you want a Sonnets Die? Isn’t it obvious? (You do like the poems?) The D154 project was overseen by Jeff Falzone, one of my truest partisans. He and some friends plan to use the die to test his recall of the sonnet cycle. You heard me. Roll the die, recite the sonnet. From memory.
If you think that I could do this myself, you’d be… mistaken. Back 400+ years ago when I wrote them, sure, but not any more. I usually lean on this, now. Jeffrey is an exceptional and admirable human being.
But even if you’re not into Homeric feats of poetic memorization, these dice are such beguiling objets. I bet they feel great to hold, especially the metal ones. They’ve got size, heft. Keep one on your desk, with a copy of the sonnets. (Wrong name’s on that cover. I’m used to it.) Have a few minutes while you’re in a hold queue for customer support? Roll the die, see which one you get. Read it. Learn something. Feel something.
I’m not as materially acquisitive as I used to be, but ’sblood I’d love to own one of these. I’d probably have to sell another manor. I’ve always had excellent taste, which doesn’t come cheap.
My birthday will be rolling around again, next 12 April. #Oxford467. That’s called a hint.