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  #1  
Old 03-16-2003, 06:12 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Here's a sonnet I love for its jauntiness. If the Cat were still alive, this would be his submission, and I'll be pleased to have anyone figure out which of our distinguished members wrote it.

Singing Bird

Christ's sake, poor Septimus, stop all this praise.
You make me seem a vase in some museum.
Goodbye the living poet, hello the mausoleum!
I havenšt written an unselfconscious phrase
since you phoned in the small hours, raving
about my last sent verses, lyrical
sparrows daftly denying the empirical
hawk and its usual method of behaving.

I cannot write a word now but I visualise
myself as object, in your aesthetic gallery
of plinth-set poets, caretaken for a salary,
whose golden dung brings tears to aesthetes' eyes.
I'm out into the day to let the rain
batter me back to dailiness again.


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Old 03-17-2003, 12:02 PM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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I'm thinking of pinning this poem up right over my word processor, as a kind of memento mori, a warning--not of mortality--but of "literary-hood." I recognize the poem it suggests in the second quatrain, having almost perpetrated it several times before having the sense to tear it up. The deflating language is wonderful, culminating in that perfect "golden dung" we need to be so careful of.

The irony, of course, is that this poet clearly deserves everything "poor Septimus" has been spouting. Anybody who doubts that should just look at the rhymes, and the way the tone ranges smoothly from impatience through self-awareness to alert, hard-nosed humility.
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Old 03-17-2003, 03:51 PM
Richard Wakefield Richard Wakefield is offline
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Tim:
I haven't a clue who wrote it, but anyone who can plausibly rhyme "lyrical" with "empirical / hawk" gets my whole hearted vote.
RPW
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Old 03-18-2003, 08:57 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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Love this one - language and attitude, and the carefree way it swings back and forth between pentameter and hex and totally gets away with it because it is so...unselfconscious. What I particularly admire here is the way that a classical reference and a traditional form are married to completely contemporary sentiment and expression. And the closing couplet bangs it all shut! It's not only well done, but it's an intelligent poem.

Whodunnit? Sassy attitude toward life and meter, hawks and sparrows, uncomfortable with praise. I'd say Deborah Warren (if I guess Deborah on every sonnet, sooner or later I'll be correct).

Michael Cantor

[This message has been edited by Michael Cantor (edited March 18, 2003).]
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Old 03-18-2003, 02:47 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Dear Michael, keep guessing. Only way I'd have guessed this one is by the last couplet, uttered by a voice unlike that of anyone now speaking.
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Old 03-21-2003, 08:09 AM
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Kate Benedict Kate Benedict is offline
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That golden dung line alone is worth the price of admission. Sends me on a vengeful reverie of certain poems written by certain highly rewarded poets who have been praised by certain highly pretentious Harvard critics.

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Old 03-23-2003, 08:20 PM
Alfred Nicol Alfred Nicol is offline
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Tim tells us that this sonnet was uttered "by a voice unlike that of anyone now speaking." That's too bad. I would love to see lines 7-8 revised, but I take it the author is no longer around to do any revising. Well, even as is, this one gets my vote.
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Old 03-23-2003, 09:07 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Sorry to mislead, Alfred. The last couplet is typical of this poet's voice, and the rest of the sonnet much less so. I think the genius of this poem is that he writes a chatty, Catullus-like affair, then makes it entirely his own. And he's alive and well.
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Old 03-24-2003, 07:28 PM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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Alfred, what do you want done to lines 7 & 8? I think they're priceless!
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Old 03-24-2003, 09:41 PM
Alfred Nicol Alfred Nicol is offline
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Rhina,

Yes, what those lines SAY is priceless, but those two lines sound like written lines, where every other line in the poem sounds as if it might be spoken aloud, without first having been memorized.
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