Thursday, August 30, 2018

Poetry Friday: Sonnets

When the world seems overwhelming, write a sonnet.  I learned this from Jane Yolen, whose book Radiation Sonnets I wrote about here.  While her husband was undergoing radiation for his cancer, she wrote a sonnet each day.  It felt like something she could control during a time that was completely out of her control.  Those fourteen lines, the iambic pentameter, the predictable rhyme scheme, all leading to the couplet at the end that sums it up: there's something comforting about a sonnet.

I wrote one this week in response to the evil in the news.  Yes, I'll use the word: evil.  How do people come to terms with the evil that has been done to them, and still move forward, and have a life that isn't forever marred and ugly?

After mine, I'll share one by a master, Shakespeare.  I wonder if he found writing sonnets helped with all the drama of his life, whatever the real story is of the Dark Lady, the Young Man, and so on.  Maybe sorting his thoughts into those fourteen lines helped him to clarify them.  The one I've chosen is a favorite of mine, and I shared it before a few years ago as I bewept my outcast state.


"Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.
Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

“Far more can be mended than you know.”  Francis Spufford

The goal is not a mess that’s been concealed,
A mess that still torments your sleepless nights.
The goal is fixed, repaired, all better, healed,
Returned to Eden, mended, put to rights.
Is there a scar?  Perhaps; it’s smooth, it shines.
It’s made a road where once was gash and gore.
Walk safely through the field where once were mines.
Don’t worry; they’re not dangers any more.

Can it be true?  I want to think it can,
But evil’s strength is great, and terrifies,
The villains are in charge, that smiling man,
That smiling woman, wrapped in smiling lies.

Yet still we hope, we long for sins forgiven,
For waking, all our nightmares gone.  For heaven.

Ruth, from

Sonnet XXIX

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

The roundup is here today.


Linda B said...

There is a feeling of content when one can find some power over something, as you shared from Jane Yolen's words and now in writing your own sonnet. It is quite a perfect one to me, Ruth, the word choice, the pauses then on to another line of explanation of your sorrow. "That smiling woman, wrapped in smiling lies." makes me shiver, but the wrapping up with hope makes me smile, and hope, too. Shakespeare did well, too, yet at this time I connect with yours more. Thank you.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Wow, Ruth - thank you for such a thoughtful post and pairing of poems. Your sonnet is frank and yet still offers a beam of hope despite the darkness. (Appreciated the link to your post about Jane Y's sonnets, too.)

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Thank you for sharing such a poignant poem.

Kay said...

I find sonnets intimidating, but you have show their power to help us make sense of senseless things--all those lies--and find beauty in the midst. I do hold out hope that truth and beauty will once again win out over evil.

Linda Mitchell said...

Ruth, you give me hope. To think that the way one can feel control and safety in difficult times by writing a sonnet as WOW as yours ....well, you WOW me! I have to admit, the concentration I find in looking for the right words and meter and rhyme are very soothing to me. I describe it as 'word soduko' . I love the beauty of scars that your sonnet describes. Well done!

Michelle Kogan said...

Finding solace in the lines of a poem–a sonnet–yes poetry is a great refuge for that. Thanks for both of these poems and your sonnet with it's call to "waking, all our nightmares gone."

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

I like how dark and sinister you make their smiling. Smiling can convey smug joy at deception and theft. It gives me a shiver to contemplate what's causing that smiling. Although, I'm not even sure we're thinking of the same smiling folk.