An Adventure of Keats and Chapman

I inflicted this on staff in my Department so now it’s your chance, oh Internet.

A virtual prize for the right answer and the first person to name the writer I have so poorly pastiched.

Keats and Chapman had travelled to the Lakes in search of peace and the possibility of artistic inspiration, at least that was Keats’ idea. However the weather had been terrible and the inn where they were staying was notable only for its leaking roof and the vileness of its beer.

The two friends had grown irritable and it seemed that the trip would produce nothing but bad feelings and ill temper. Then one morning the sun came out and the sky was cloudfree for the first time all week. Keats and Chapman set out into the morning for an early walk.

They walked to the nearest lake where they found a rowing boat in the care of a local child. Negotiating feverishly Keats managed to secure the hire of the boat and he and Chapman set out across the water. With only a single pair of oars Chapman found himself doing the rowing. Keats sat in the prow of the boat and watched his friend’s exertions with interest, calling out pieces of advice from time to time and making a range of comments on Chapman’s style of rowing.

‘Can you not row any faster?’ said Keats.

Chapman complained that the boat was heavy, indeed very heavy.

Keats began to look about the boat and rummaging in the bottom of the boat he found a large household brick. Looking around he picked it up and threw it into the lake where it instantly sank.

Chapman was still having trouble with the boat and it soon became apparent that water was leaking into the boat and weighing it down. The flow of water increased and it was with some desperation that the two friends tried to get the boat to shore. The flow of water was such that it was very hard to steer the boat and Chapman’s efforts at rowing seemed doomed to failure. But with one final effort they made land.

Standing on the shore, panting heavily. Keats looked down at the waterlogged boat and with a supreme effort said ‘As ye seep so shall ye row.’

The question is did the waterlevel of the lake go up, down or remain the same after Keats threw the brick in? And why?


7 thoughts on “An Adventure of Keats and Chapman

  1. I think the water level would have gone down, with less weight in the boat it would have displaced less water. The difference in displacement would be greater in volume than the volume of the brick (assuming that the remaining contents of the boat is less dense than the brick) and then once water started leaking into the boat the water level would have dropped further as the displacement continued to reduce.

  2. On my blog page today I pose the same question. A commenter, the poet Jeff Green, produced the answer that the level would go down.

    On a site where he posts some of his poetry, he came up with the following:

    The Brick in the Boat

    A man held a brick as he sat in a boat
    Then threw it away and the brick didn’t float
    The man then considered and rubbed at his eyes
    The level of water did it sink or rise?

    His friend in the boat (he was there all along)
    Said “deeper of course”, that comrade was wrong
    A brick, while it’s floating, displaces its weight
    And bricks are quite heavy, its weight may be great

    But bricks are not floaters they rapidly sink
    Then displacing their volume, it’s clear if you think
    So if, in a boat you throw stones overboard
    To deepen the lake then your thinking is flawed.

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