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Old 05-01-2012, 08:15 AM
Gail White's Avatar
Gail White Gail White is offline
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Default Sonnet #9 - partnering


I love you as a ballerina's feet
cherish the floor they seem intent on leaving.
Arched like little wings, they poise or beat
the air, hovering, soaring, flashing, weaving
invisible lace. Her buoyant movements hide
the force that lifts or launches; no one sees
the impact when she lands. She seems to glide
above the floor like goose down in a breeze.

Yet she could neither leap nor twirl nor stand
without that solid surface's support,
and if it had no give, each time she'd land,
her joints would suffer and her tendons hurt --
the base on which she spins above the dust
as firm as love, as flexible as trust.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:05 AM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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My favorite so far! Such a novel perspective on what is often a cliched trope in poetry. The only nit I can pick is with "cherish" in L2, as it starts the line with an off-putting metric (unless you can make "cherish" sound like one syllable, which is almost possible...). Other than that, I truly like everything about this poem...which speaks volumes for a sonnet that is (ostensibly) about a floor. Well done!
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:27 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Location: New York
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That's merely a trochaic substitution, Skip.

I agree this is fine work. I could wish the one imperfect rhyme were made perfect, I suppose, though it's not a big deal.

What I find slightly annoying about the poem (though I don't think it's a flaw in the poem per se) is the same thing I find annoying in the popular song where the singer tells his/her lover that he/she has flown higher than an eagle only because "you are the wind beneath my wings." To me it's a bit annoying to assign oneself the role of successful flyer/dancer and to praise one's love for making it all possible. Most of us would rather be the eagle and let someone else be the wind beneath our wings, and most of us would rather be the dancer than the floorboards beneath the dancer.

The "I" here only shows up in the first line, so I'm wondering if the line could be rewritten in a more reciprocal way to suggest that each of the lovers is both dancer and floorboard.

But kudos for the extended metaphor, which I think is well done.
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Old 05-01-2012, 09:34 AM
conny conny is offline
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Location: UK
Posts: 1,670

I like it too, with a few reservations,
all pretty fixable i think.

goose down doesn't really glide, esp. in a breeze. it just kinda
gets blown about. thus glide feels a bit rhyme driven. and
above the floor isn't quite right imo. gliding across the
floor maybe, like a swan or something.

and the dust on the floor seems odd. spinning above the dust
sounds a bit of a strange thing to draw attention to.
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:01 AM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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A fine extended metaphor and lovely tribute to N's lover/spouse. A little on the sweet side, though, and I'm not sure I agree with the statement in L14. The simile in L2 also gave me pause. Is N somehow "intent on leaving"? I don't think so, but it does come across as somewhat questionable.

I think there's lots of room for improvement. For example, the bland statement "buoyant movements" -- why not a specific example?

The alliterative sounds in L10 (which I find a tad OTT) belie the solidity of the floorboards.

I also believe that ballerinas' joints and tendons hurt anyway, despite the flexibility of the boards, so the statement isn't quite honest.

Still, I admire the sonnet very much.

Last edited by Catherine Chandler; 05-01-2012 at 11:08 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 05-01-2012, 10:46 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Of all the sonnets we've seen, this weaves the sentences through the structure best. That's not an easy thing to do. It bespeaks real mastery of the pentameter. I agree with Cathy that this is a little too sweet, but I take my hat off to the poet.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:06 PM
Vernon Sims Vernon Sims is offline
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Default Delicate

A difficult subject treated with delicacy and an interesting perspective. Nothing is perfect and that is as it should be.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:55 PM
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FOsen FOsen is offline
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Is it just me or does anyone else feel the poem and the last line would read much better if 'firm' and 'flexible' were reversed?

As flexible as love, as firm as trust.

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Old 05-01-2012, 02:15 PM
David Anthony David Anthony is offline
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Like Roger I immediately thought of "the wind beneath my wings".
Excepting this I think it's a fine and beautifully constructed sonnet.
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:11 PM
Duncan Gillies MacLaurin's Avatar
Duncan Gillies MacLaurin Duncan Gillies MacLaurin is online now
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I think this lacks clout. I don’t see the occasion for this sonnet other than merely practising sonnet writing. There is no sign of any urgent reason for N to profess his/her love. In fact after setting him/herself up as the main subject, N disappears. Perhaps she/he has a semblance of a return at the end what with the repetition of the word “love”. But there’s no new perspective in the couplet. Just an assertion that love and trust are in action here. For me it comes across as an exercise in describing a ballerina, and little else.

As an exercise, there isn’t that much to fault. But there are weaknesses.

The repetition of the verb, “seem”, in the octet is clumsy. And it is surely a weakness that there are three similes in the octet – with the weakest of the three coming last – and two similes in the sestet, both dubious ones, as Frank has pointed out. There are five similes in all in 14 lines, and, to be frank, all five are immediately forgettable.

The slant rhyme of “support” and “hurt” does not alarm me. It can be seen as a concession to the “give” of the surface. My main complaint is “she’d land” (L11), which is a rhyme-driven substitute for the grammatically correct “she landed”. And in L6 the final word, “sees”, should be “feels”, seeing as how its object is “the impact”. Again, this is a rhyme-driven substitution. The phrase, “above the dust” (L13), strikes me very much as filler/rhyme-driven.

All in all, not one I’ll be voting for.

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