I Write a Sonnet


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I don't know how Shakespeare did it. Sonnets are hard! I mean, I could barely squeeze this one out, so I hardly can imagine how Willy wrote hundreds of them. I would probably die. Free-verse is more my thing. But then again, it seems everyone these days is doing free-verse. I'll be a non-conformist!

The reason I wrote a sonnet? Our literary magazine got nailed last year because almost every single poem we published was free-verse slam poetry (I can think of maybe one that wasn't free verse, but even then, it was no sonnet. :| ). My creative writing class has to submit two on-theme entries per person, so I took it on myself to write a sonnet.

Dunno what my other entry's going to be... I know for sure I'm submitting my short story, but honestly I don't know what else to send in. Suggestions? I can send in any number of entries, but only 3 of them can be published (maybe four if I beg and plead my teacher and we get desperate for good entries, but that's unlikely).
A Statue of Two Soldiers in New York City
Forgottens stand still in a sea of sick motion;
Remembereds move past in a fast-blinding flash
Like schoolfish stuck swimming in dark urban oceans.
They pay their respects with their cigarette ash.
The pigeons hop dumbly from statue to other,
Their orange eyes staring, uncaring, and cold.
Neglected, forgotten, these sentinel brothers—
Sad stories of service to their home they told.
The still ones sit, sentinel statues of past-time.
They’re staring with unwearing eyes from before
The pavement came cov’ring in fast-forward fast-time
The field where these soldiers took not a breath more.
Still standing, still staring, their eyes watch the passes
Of people past, paying respects in smoke ashes.
Fun fact: A quick trip to Wikipedia revealed that this poem is written in anapestic tetrameter. What does that mean? I'm glad you asked.

Anapestic: two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable.
Tetrameter: each line has four feet (that is, four sets of anapestic syllable patterns).

Allow me to demonstrate: (hyphens are unstressed, apostrophes are stressed, slashes denote each foot)
For-got'/tens- stand- still'/ in- a- sea'/ of- sick- mo'/tion-;
Re-mem'/bereds- move- past'/ in- a- fast'-blind-ing- flash'
A poem you all well know written in anapestic meter is "T'was the Night Before Christmas." Take a closer look at it: you'll see it. ;)

I think I like anapestic meter because it has a lilting, lyrical feel to it. Plus, I feel really... scholarly... when I say that I wrote a sonnet in anapestic tetrameter.

There's your little poetry lesson for the day. :)

3 Poetry Snaps:

EAL said...

Sonnets do present a challenge, don't they? Yours turned out quite well. I like this rhythm better than the normal iambic hexameter - it feels like a waltz.

As for which entries to submit: I'm partial to "Arachnophobia" and "Two Inches".

Alexa said...

I think you've confused iambic pentameter with iambic hexameter. Iambic pentameter is the most common meter for English sonnets (esp. Shakespeare). But that's an easy mistake. ;P *pats on head*

Yeah, you're right... It does indeed feel sort of like a waltz. Although on further pondering, I think a dactyllic meter is more waltz-like (stressed unstressed unstressed), as in Rudyard Kipling's poem:

This' is- the- law' of- the- jun'gle- (I don't remember the title or the rest of the poem. Good for me. :P )

Huh... Yes, I think I will submit Two Inches. I forgot about that one. Heck, I should just send the prose and poetry teams my blog link and be like "Here. Read this whole thing and pick three things to publish." :P I can't decide!

RJ said...

Hello Alexa, just dropping by as I haven't dropped by in a while. Love the sonnet! :) Talking of Shakespeare, I'm going to see an open air production of the Tempest tomorrow...should be fun!

Anyway, now I feel a lot more educated on the subject of sonnet types... :)

Have a good week!

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