The Magic Square Palindrome

—Michael Constantine McConnell—

          The Magic Square Palindrome, like the normal palindrome, boasts two aspects. First, the verse must be structured ad literam in reverse order, and secondly, for the verse to be "literary," it must bear grammatical implication. It has to be spelled the same backward and forward, and it has to make some type of sense. Though both forms are essentially palindromes, the Magic Square Palindrome differs from the ordinary palindrome in that when the twenty five letters of a Magic Square are arranged on a 5x5 table, they form a pattern such that the same palindromic sequence of letters appears in four different directions.
          Magic Squares date back to at least 14 A.D., as many bearing the following message have been found above door thresholds in the excavated ruins of Pompeii: SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS. The SATOR square has experienced many translations ranging roughly from "The worker cultivates with help of the wheel" to "The savior holds the sphere." The translations share one common thread: the idea of roundness, cyclicity, and recursion. The form seems to mimic the meaning, and theories abound as to whether the SATOR squares found above thresholds were meant as charms or whether they represented early Christian sects as evinced by the anagram PATER NOSTER or whether they were two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects—square spheres.
          Regardless, even though my following Magic Square Palindromes aren't as self-referential and "mystical" as the SATOR square, I present them in the spirit of the ancient poetic formalism I most admire, cruciverbalism, the crossing of letters, both the bane and the blessing of the puzzler, the puzzling, and the puzzled.


5x5 Word Square

Muse sun, Eve's e[y]es even use sum.

[ 7 words/25 letters ]

5x5 Word Square

Eros, erode sod. [I] dosed ore sore.

[ 7 words/25 letters ]

5x5 Word Square

Trap: a rat spat a tap's tar apart.

[ 8 words/25 letters ]

5x5 Word Square

At ads timid, am [I] mad? I'm its data!

[ 9 words/25 letters ]

—first published in LEAD magazine—

9x9 Word Square

God, a sin is on my gong. I'd mar on Ann Ayr. Al, a 'no' is gol[d] logs. Ion, Al: a Ryan nanoram. Dig no gym. No sin is a dog.

[ 31 words/81 letters ]

—first published in LEAD magazine—

[photo courtesy Digital Reflections]

Contributing Editor Michael Constantine McConnell is a writer, editor, musician, and teacher from Denton, Texas.

content Copyright 2007, Michael Constantine McConnell—All Rights Reserved

image (original): Theodoros Pelecanos, from Synosius (1478)
image (edit), "Serpent" 2007, Darin C. Bradley—All Rights Reserved