the evolution of the sonnet
July 14, 2011

This poem is from earlier this year when I was going through a sonnet phase.  It started out as a Shakespearean sonnet, as you can see from the first two quatrains with their iambs and abab rhyme scheme.  But the number of feet in each line is 7, not the traditional 5.  And then while I was writing it, I inadvertently added an extra line in the middle of the poem and only realized this after someone else read the poem and pointed it out.  I have since revised it, adding a couple lines and complexifying the rhyme scheme in the second half a bit.  It ended up being abab cdcd ede fgfg fhh.  As you might have guessed, I really like this poem for the form and technical experimentation.

In the Garden

When I was young, I knew where all the virtues went to stay;
I came upon them sipping tea one summer afternoon,
the sunlight and their splendor hanging heavy on the day,
the only sound the tinkling of their cups on silver spoons.

They continued stirring sugar as I marveled, face to face
with Wisdom, Honor, and Compassion, Faith and Hope and Might,
and I, the child who knew no better, sat down next to Grace
and stared at Beauty for a while.  I stayed with them till night,

and listened to their voices speaking softly of the earth,
not worrying but wondering at marvels and at plight,
at human love and suffering, at knowledge and its worth,

at waking to the end of sleep when all the dreams are through.
The virtues turned to me sometimes to ask me what I thought
of finger sandwiches and stars, and all the things I knew.
Not knowing what to say, I spoke of lightning bugs I’d caught

and berries eaten from the vine, of wanting to seem true.
My mother called me in the dark, and I left the virtues with despair.
But if I find them once again, they’re saving me a chair.


Sonnet 2
February 3, 2011


I swam out on a summer night
to test the water and my strength.
And I was lost, without a light,
so I swam the shore’s entire length,
and I was tired at the end,
but I knew you were waiting there.
I swam to you, my dearest friend,
so you could kiss my moonlit hair.
And though you left me long ago
for other women, men, and lands,
I sometimes smile, just to know
we left our clothes on midnight sands.
I should have known it wouldn’t last,
but still, I’m dreaming of the past.

February 2, 2011


The muted wonder in your eyes tells me
that silence is a happy way to live
when all the world, in sunlight, is set free
and all the noises charge the stage to give
the concert of their lives.  The quiet smile
upon your lips tells me to listen well
because the rests are lost in sound, and while
the notes are good, the rests have things to tell.
I know that you will never stop to talk
and tell me of the silences you’ve heard
but I have watched the way you move and walk
and see that you don’t miss the spoken word.
For syllables are simply sounds, at best,
but you, in silence, shine above the rest.