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Thursday, 15 November 2007

A Breath of Air (Sonnet)

I throw my head back! Life is in me yet
My heart can still skip beats and laugh, oh, yeah!
So jump! Rejoice that deathly blank despair
Can never be interminably set.
He'd just become an adult when we met
No longer awkward, slackly debonair
He smiles at me with such a friendly flair
I too must smile, releasing my regret.
I cannot say I've felt a love's embrace
Nor shall I ever find it here, I know
Another woman smiles to see his face
And day by day I see their comfort grow.
To her he gives his lively warmth and care;
To me, he's just a precious breath of air.

Notes:
1. In many ways this is an old poem. I didn't dare write it at the time, and I started writing it about a year ago if I remember correctly. But I only finished it recently, and yes, it is possible that new ideas have made their way in.
2. There are two main types of sonnet. A Petrarchan sonnet starts with an octet that has the rhyme scheme abbaabba, and then goes on to a sextet, usually rhymed cdecde or cdcdcd. A Shakespearean sonnet has three quatrains and a couplet: ababcdcdefefgg. Frankly, I find the Shakespearean sonnet unbelievably bitsy -- fragmentary, that is; my quatrains have a tendency to stand stolidly alone with no flow*. By contrast, a Pertrarchan sonnet has a well-defined shape, since you are supposed to have a volta -- a turn, a change of mood, a new idea -- between the octet and the sextet. But let's face it, quatrains aside, that final couplet at the end of the Shakespearean can be wonderful. So I have cheerfully attempted to get the best of both worlds; my rhyme scheme is abbaabbacdcdbb. This gives me an octet, a quatrain and a couplet, which is certainly a departure from the usual Petrarchan shape; the couplet is a conclusory thing that brings together both prior sections.
3. Yes, and I rhymed the couplet using the b rhyme of the octet. Again, this is an attempt to make my rhyme begin the 'cohesion' thing for me. It's also not very hard, because the word 'air' has an awful lot of rhymes. I could have fitted 'chair', 'hair' or 'compare' in quite easily. 'Bear', 'mare' and 'stare' would have been less useful, I think. I'm a little sorry I didn't include 'swear' or 'dare', because they're both lively words. On the other hand, I'm sure a line ending in 'there' would have been dreadfully bland. And at one point I did include 'repair'. But you get the point. Oh, and if being American means things don't rhyme as well for you as for me, then I apologise -- but I'm not particularly contrite ;-)

*Which is why I interlocked my ruba'iyat. So that they'd flow. I mean, if I'd wanted to imitate Khayyam or FitzGerald as accurately as possible, I really shouldn't have done that.

5 comments:

Kelly Gorski said...

I think it's creative and overly beautiful. I find poetry written in an instant has its place, but poetry written over time and place is much more interesting, as there's much more of an unconscious author present (which conveys authorial intent so much more efficiently), so it makes for a great read. It can be a quick or prolonged reading of one's evolution, and one has written more than one realizes.

Alon Levy said...

It is very emotionally moving and beautiful, and I say this as someone whose preferred form of artistic expression is literary fiction rather than poetry.

You mention the two main types of sonnet... have you tried writing in Onegin stanza?

Lynet said...

I hadn't even heard of the Onegin stanza! It looks fascinating. I shall have to play with it some time. The fact that it's tetrameter rather than pentameter would change the mood quite a bit -- the few examples linked to from the Wikipedia page seem frank and immediate.

Alon Levy said...

If I'd had my verse translation of Eugene Onegin at home, I'd post the first few stanzas for a natural example.

John Evo said...

There once was a Lady Lynet
Whose man of dreams could not get.
So she wrote of him then,
And she writes of him now
In the words of a lovely Sonnet.

As you can see, John is not poetically inclined. But I can still enjoy it. Nice job.