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Old 03-21-2003, 08:47 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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The Perfect Sonnet


I’ve been at this forever and I think
the perfect sonnet should consist of one
long sentence which will elegantly slink
around caesuras; have a little fun
with word-play as it sets its feet upon
good meter and an intertwining rhyme,
and then, just when it seems it will run on
and on without an insight worth a dime -

sublimely superficial, laced with wit
that sidesteps the realities of life -
shall open up a bit and half admit
concern about old age, finances, wife;
so that, instead of running out of gas,
it turns around and bites you in the ass.


This one will be no stranger to the denizens of The Deep End.
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Old 03-21-2003, 08:55 AM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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How clever and snippy and delightful! Love the internal rhymes, the pun on "feet," the use of simple language and many monosyllables, and the good-natured ending that takes only a little bite, but suggests it could have chomped down hard, if it had wanted to. Good for initiating a lesson on the form.
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Old 03-21-2003, 03:44 PM
Deborah Warren Deborah Warren is offline
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I loved this when I first saw it and I love it now. But change that line-11 'shall' to 'will'.
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Old 03-21-2003, 09:35 PM
Rhina P. Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat is offline
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Yes, I'm with you on that, Deborah.
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Old 03-22-2003, 09:34 PM
Alfred Nicol Alfred Nicol is offline
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I have a little problem with the closing couplet: things that bite don't run on gas.
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Old 03-23-2003, 06:26 AM
EREME EREME is offline
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What a wonderful Perfect Sonnet, demonstrating so ably what it describes.
But - please forgive me - Alfred's post caused a different final couplet to spring to mind, it went thus:

"so that, instead of running out of steam,
it turns around and bites you in the beam."

A Brit's response, of course!
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Old 03-23-2003, 10:09 AM
hector hector is offline
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The problem is that it's padded out: skilfully padded, but still padded. Perhaps it should have been a curtal sonnet.
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Old 03-24-2003, 09:16 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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I guess I don't share Alfred's concern about the last couplet, though I chuckled over Ereme's proposed solution. Nor do I agree with Hector. It is true that there is little density and minimal charge to the language of this poem. But that's because the voice is so utterly relaxed, so very conversational. I've had the pleasure of sharing a drink with this poet on the waterfront in Newburyport, and I can imagine him hoisting a brew and simply saying this elegant sentence. No, I'm with Rhina. Students, you want to write a sonnet? Here's how it's done.
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Old 04-02-2003, 11:24 PM
rizenmoon rizenmoon is offline
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This sonnet is as advertised. My tastes run toward clarity and profundity rather than superficiality and wit, but the construction and effect of this are first rate.



[This message has been edited by rizenmoon (edited April 02, 2003).]
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Old 04-09-2003, 08:43 AM
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Zita Zenda Zita Zenda is offline
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I think the first semicolon comes too soon, in L4. Can you have more than one semicolon in one run-on sentence?

How can it “run on and on without an insight” and be “sublimely superficial, laced with wit”? I think a sonnet should “nail” rather than “sidestep” the “realities of life”, and of course, do more than “half admit” anything.

There is a discussion on another thread that had a statement which rang very true to me. I should find it and quote it, but not right now. It said something to the effect that it is sad that modern poetry is so obsessed with using ordinary language.

This sonnet is not a poem, it is one long ordinary sentence which slinks around...

And of course, that is not to say that I don't like or appreciate it!

Perhaps a better name for this one is "The Template"



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