Follow-Up on Teaching Sonnets | Wanderings in the Labyrinth

Aug 22, 2013 @ 10:15:42

One thing at a time. :-)

It’s been my experience that students can count syllables, and get 10 syllables into a line, far easier than they can match the iambic pentameter. The iambic pentameter only came for me after about thirty sonnets — so I think it’s less of a priority. We want students to get over three hurdles first: writing fourteen lines, writing a rhyme scheme, and writing ten syllables in a line. The iamb can come later, because it’s a “sounds like this” issue, which gets solved by kids who care about writing more than one or two.

I could have sworn that it was Dershowitz, but it’s now been at least a decade since I read the report, and the name of the lawyer has long since escaped me. It was about the time of the O.J. Simpson trial, as I recall, or before, so it may not be on the Web — given that it was 1994. It was a profile of a prominent lawyer of the era, might have been Harper’s magazine or The Atlantic…

As for your sonnet sequence, I like it. It conveys feelings of doubt and uncertainty, and solitude; but it’s very much rooted in internal feeling and abstract language, rather than in the macrocosmic world of objects and things and processes. I tend to lean more into the world of objects than you, but it may be an advantage in the poetry world these days.

via Follow-Up on Teaching Sonnets | Wanderings in the Labyrinth.

Sonnet XI: The Art of War

How strangely opposite our sameness then,
My friend; although I know thy form–as hard
As mine–not pliant, nor as soft, we men;
Nor sweet, as  fond our distaff we regard.

With toil, these untendered limbs are scarred,
That reach for thee, though laughingly, with force
To equal thine, as though we will have sparred–
Yet battle merely reticent remorse.

And, having long since made our peace, the source
Of this reserve has fuelled our desire;
And brought us far along our wicked course!
That we, forbidden wickedness, conspire.

And–battle, artistry, or sin–we choose
This contest both would win, or wish to lose.

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:


Sonnet I: Evil Will Die

Shall any reach the stars when no man may?
And who shall lift ye when the rest are gone?
Believe ye he’ll continue, at your sway,
To trust it’s ye from whom his strength is drawn?

What lie is this? What price is added on
To that, with blissful ignorance, his gifts
Have paid? Dare shriek that hand should carry on,
Betrayed, when ye have cursed it while it lifts

Ye from your caves. The mind who guides it drifts
In lofty space. And when it dreams, it keeps
Ye from your graves. The laws of God it sifts,
With all His grace, yea, even as it sleeps.

Yet now, lies still, until your evil dies–
 At rest, until ’tis safe to touch the skies!

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:



Sonnet III: Name Us

Shall profit grant me mere upon release,
A living testament to living lives;
Shall profit take me even when they cease;
For living life as living life survives?

As second over living second, thrives
The lift of life as only life could lift;
Each passing hour, every second strives,
As second, hour, and year, would pass as swift.

So do we drift through time as time would drift,
Depriving all of what it may deprive:
So lacking lustre as privation’s gift–
The merest that the merest would survive.

Then strive we only now to own life’s lease,
Alive until our living would increase!

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:


Sonnet: Blessings of God’s Anointed

Gaze upon me, O Lovely, and beware,
Or as thy frosts unfairly come, rejoice.
Fair-play with fortune will confound Despair
That, hideous with pride, hath shown its voice.

For never-resting, God’s anointed here
Excel: to verse thy numbered days, to bear
This work, to lend thee summer; and to year
Thy days, and keep thee and thy children fair.

In all our seasons, prisoners are we–
As checked, and sapped, and pent, as tyrants fear
All eyes the beauty we distil may see–
Who gift these days to winter they who sneer:

Though thieving Time all substance yet destroys,
We left thee more than wretched Time enjoys.

The final draft of this sonnet became part
of a short, or possibly at some point, very long
sequence; click here to read it all:


Sonnet IX: My Sweet Savant

But rest thy racing mind, my sweet savant,
And know thine intellect may bring thee through
Thy fear and doubt, as any other want.
I would thou should but give this truth its due

Though oft wouldst thou believe this help untrue,
My dearest, my most charming, doubtful boy;
So long the list of thy solutions, drew
My mind, as easy thou wouldst reach for joy

And find it waits for thee. No other ploy
Couldst thou detect in me; for, as I were
Thy future, thou wouldst not my past destroy.
Take this I would thee know, and let it stir
Thy mind until occureth free of daunt;
And, if thou wouldst prefer: thy quickness flaunt!

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all: