If Shakespeare can write a sonnet I thought, then so can I. But what is a sonnet? A little research turned up the information that there were two main varieties of this poetic discipline, the Italian and the English. So I thought I would write some sonnets about Sonnets!
Clearly the English form is simplest, but perhaps in the difficulty of the Italian form lies the greater charm... On the other hand excessive difficulty is too restrictive to the author... Thus I ended up inventing my own variation on the Italian form.
The sonnet in Italian form should show,
Full fourteen lines, ten syllables to be.
Each paired in rhyming couplets, to the key
Dictated in the format shown below:
The first line and the fourth together go,
With five and eight, that all four do agree.
The second and the third must rhymed be,
With seven and with six, as all should know.
Then comes at last the final sestet catch,
That answers the whole octave placed before.
The first line and the fourth line make a pair,
The second and the fifth must also match.
The third and sixth, they end the same for sure,
To show the poet's craftiness and care.
The English sonnet on the other hand,
Is not so hard to write, nor yet to hear.
The syllables flash by like grains of sand,
And drop with crystal sweetness on the ear.
Although this form still has of lines fourteen,
And each has just ten syllables you'll find.
Yet meaning is much clearer here I wean:
The rhythm helps the sense stay in the mind.
This form is thus composed of quatrains three,
And each one independent of the rest.
In rhyming, lines in alternate agree,
A form that even Shakespeare found the best.
Except of course the couplet at the last,
That screws up all the good work of the past.
So now it seems that I should make my mark,
And shape a sonnet form that I think best.
A mixture of Italian and the rest,
A smattering of white and grey and dark.
I'll keep the quatrains separate that's for sure,
The rhyming's far too tricky otherwise.
But also keep my mind upon the prize:
A rhythm that is subtle to the core.
'Tis thus that at this format I've arrived,
Though it is never easy I will say:
To find a break in rhythm in mid-rhyme.
To change from lines in twos I have contrived,
To go to sets of three along the way,
And readjust the link we have with time.
Warren Mars - September 2000