Tuesday, 22 April 2014

fourteen, Sweet and Superb

is for Sonnet

This is a well known and popular form, compelling and calling to poets across centuries.  Probably the sonnet is to Western poets what the ghazal is to Eastern ones. 

There are many variations, the two main being Petrarchan and Shakespearean.  Essentially a short verse form of 14 lines, in original Italian, sonnet means “little song”, it usually deals with themes of love and romance. 

The sonnet is divided into two parts – the first is descriptive and the second sums up the poets take on the theme introduced in the first part, sometimes with a sting of surprise in the tail.

The perfect sonnet, like the perfect ghazal, is subject to very rigid rules.  It must be written in iambic pentameter with specific rhyme schemes (abab cdcd efef gg for the Shakespearean, and abbaabba cdecde for the Petrarchan). There has to be a "turn", some kind of epiphany-ish quality to the summing up verse, starting off at the end of the 8th line in the traditional Petrarchan, and the couplet in Shakespearean and ending with a drumroll revelation.  All quite fiddly and finicky.

Nothing in life is perfect, and a bit of imperfection here and there is good for the soul, it’s okay not to stick to every rule every single time.  I like writing sonnets just as much I like ghazals and rubai, but I am not too fussed about metres, and all that iambic palaver just goes over my head.  Poetry is all about reinterpretations and having fun while you are at it. Doing it your way, in other words.

So here’s my sonnet my way:

A bit of light on the kitchen door

I hardly ever notice the kitchen door -
two turns of the key and then twist the knob
and into the garden on some mundane chore,
invisible exit’s part of the job;

a few flowers in season, some straggly herbs,
crushed mint underfoot, maybe pick a bunch;
what other purpose can this doorway serve
but a quick detour on the way to lunch?

the sun leans in, on a day in early spring
a bit of glass, shifts of dust, wrought-iron grill;
a lick of light makes it a beautiful thing!
this graphpaper glass, this dull dust, this doorsill!

a minute, and the light changes the door
never mind, I now know what doorways are for. 

Posted for the A-Z Challenge.


  1. How beautiful was the doorway! Sounds magical!

    1. All magic is ultimately a trick of the light :)

  2. Lovely,
    i am not good at attempting sonnets :( people say usually they are on romance.

    1. They were, but not any more :) thanks for reading.

  3. Clever - there's no way I could write a sonnet. Nice to meet and connect through atozchallenge. http://aimingforapublishingdeal.blogspot.co.uk/

  4. i find it very difficult to stick to each and every rule and metres while composing... for me the feel, the honesty, the beauty of thoughts is more important

    1. My poems decide their own metres and rules mostly :) they just drag me along for the trip :)
      Thanks for visiting.