Posted tagged ‘shakespearean sonnet’

Sonnet in Winter – Hospital Visit

December 8, 2009

For a change of pace, here’s a sonnet, written about a winter’s visit to a sick friend.

The sonnet follows the Shakespearean rhyme scheme, and though it tries for Iambic Pentameter, I’m not sure that attempt is truly successful.  As noted in previous posts about sonnets and formal poetry, I tend to use a syllabic rule of thumb rather than to follow strict rules of scansion.

For further explanation of the Shakespearean rhyme scheme and some approximation of the rules of meter in formal poetry, check out prior posts re poetic meter, and sonnets, and for reasons to write formal verse .  (And plenty of others – check out poetry category.)

No chance

I wanted to give her time, a summer’s day,
a perfect green blue day that I would pluck
from my summers to come, that I would lay
upon her bed, and, shimmering, tuck
around her.  It should have been an easy offer,
easy to say.  After all, the future
can’t be readily assigned; life’s coffer
holds nothing forfeit.  Tubes followed suture
to a darkness barely gowned; I searched around
my jangling brain for words, but what came out
were stones that lined her pillow, the sound
not meaning my meaning, and not about
summer days; my own fierce will to live
hoarding what I had no power to give.

All rights reserved, Karin Gustafson.

(If interested in different forms of poems–sestinas, pantoums, villanelles, and more villanelles, and even more villanelles–there are a lot of villanelles.   Really.  Check out these links, and others.  Thanks.)

Father Sonnet

October 1, 2009

The last few days I’ve written about parenting–engaging young kids and encouraging “make-believe”–and sonnets.  So today, I thought I’d combine all subjects.  (I don’t mean the “make-believe” comment to refer to the religious aspects of the poem, but the bedtime story.)   The sonnet is Shakespearean in rhyme scheme (and attempted meter.)

My Father

My father knelt beside my bed; his round head
reflecting the bedside lamp with the look
of lighting within.  “And the genie,” he said,
“came out of a big blue jar.”  Not from a book
were the stories he told me at night.
Always of genies who were big-blue-jarred
and did fairly little, only the slight
magic of minor wishes, often ill-starred.
Though the stories were just a warm up to
the bedtime prayer.  “Our Father,” that would start,
then straight out head for “hallowed”, “trespass” too,
unknown words, to me a spell he knew by heart,
invoking, croakingly, a wished-for will
that the blue genied jar could never fulfill.

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

Subway Sonnet – Train Chemistry – Light That Cannot Be Broken Down For Parts

September 23, 2009

Molecules (poem by Karin Gustafson, drawing by Diana Barco)

I updated this post for the dVerse Poets Pub prompt for poems about trains and am also linking to Victoria C. Slotto’s blog liv2write2day relating to poems about light.     This poem is not a new one, but it was written on and prompted by the subway on a Monday, thinking about a beautifully sunny Sunday before.

This is a sonnet, a variation of the regular form 14 1/2 lines rather than the requisite 14.   I added the extra couple of words at the end to combat that “patness” that sometimes results from a sonnet’s final couplet.


Yesterday in the dim fluorescence
of subway car, I thought of molecules.
They seemed, in that greyed light, the essence
of life.  I saw them stretched in pools,
sometimes seemingly limpid, other times
volcanic, fervidly swooping me
abubble, then mucking me into slimes
of laval woe, a test tube of to be
or not to be.  Today, I’m by the sea,
and water, vaster than pools, sparkles
under light so immense it cannot be
broken down for parts, yet its particles
raise up the non-molecular part
of me, what refuses to lose heart,
no matter–

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

(The drawing above is by my dear friend Diana Barco, who illustrated my book of poetry called “Going on Somewhere,” available on Amazon.)

Check out 1 Mississippi at link above also.

More on Unwinding – Sonnet

September 22, 2009

Yesterday, I posted about stressful Mondays, and the unwinding of that stress (or at least of some of it) by a view of sky and river.   That post was somewhat comic (I hope), but I realized I also had written a sonnet, Shakespearean,  of a slightly more serious nature on the same subject.  The poem doesn’t actually deal with Mondays, but it does describe some of the unwinding offered by the flow of sky and water.


Before the sky, a lovely pale, a boy,
tall on glistening grass, tosses a ball,
and I wonder why it is that joy
is not simply inhaled.  Is it the Fall
that keeps us from feeling how it lines
the air we breathe?  Is it that first loss
that keeps us toiling within the confines
of our skins, unheeding unhidden cost?
A soft haze, like a blessing, nestles on
the sea, mutes the horizon, brings the far near.
So much within reach.  The brain wrestles on
its hardscrabble way, yet slowly fear
unwinds, diminished by sky, sea, view.
An inner hand makes the catch, more too.

(All rights reserved.  Karin Gustafson)

(I am linking this sonnet to Gooseberry Garden’s poetry picnic.  They have a very active and supportive poetry community.)