Monday, August 30, 2010

The Sonnet's Complaint

Well, those of you who follow my sonnet blog -- and I mean both of you -- you really need to come out of the woodwork and give me some suggestions for what to write about. It's not as though I have a dearth of subjects. But I'd like this blog to become a bit more interactive. So, have at it.  
I'm also wondering about whether I could do something narrative with my sonnets. A few people have tried doing this, most notably Vikram Seth, whose novel,
The Golden Gate (1986) was written completely in sonnets. Well, was it? He wrote in iambs, but only four beats to a line: tetrameter. I think it would drive me crazy either to read or write at length poetry that came in even beats per line. Still, you have to hand it to him. Hmmm. Should I attempt a short story or longer piece, completely done in sonnets? I've tried my hand at writing some drama in blank verse (an aborted prequel to Hamlet, a high school love story set in metaphorical domain of cold war rhetoric, etc.). I don't know. Well, a starting place might be to write in the voice of a character. Here, I impersonate the sonnet itself. What would the sonnet say about my uses of the form?

The Sonnet's Complaint
by Gideon Burton

Abuse. You call it what you will, a test
of form, a witness to the stamina
of poetry compact and at its best.
But I've known your perverse contaminants:
whole stanzas thrown to subjects such as cheese,
those pithy final couplets cinched with puns
(and not the thoughtful witty ones to please
the mind; just clunky jests jest overdone).
And where is the Dark Lady, where is Laura?
Those distant muses driving poets crazy?
You've lost the sonnet's sweet and bitter aura;
Those poems on married bliss? You're getting lazy.
     Untrue to what a sonnet's voice must carry--
     what's next? A poem for Curly, Moe, and Larry?


  1. O, this is yummy. I'll have to think of some ideas . . .
    I wonder if you've written about the struggle one feels when a loved one goes astray, or a friend is smotheringly involved (parasitic?) in one's daily life so that ending a relationship seems almost inevitable. What about moving to a new home and leaving your childhood home?

  2. I really like this one. It made me chuckle. I think you should write more sonnets about things you're particularly frustrated about using witty, almost satirical voice. They make for fun reading and as a reader I feel more engaged, especially if I can relate.

  3. Subject ideas, eh? You know the saying, "it's like riding a bike", meaning you never forget? Riding a bike isn't like that. After years away, I recently found myself back on two wheels and I'm having to learn all over again. I'm just sayin'...

    BTW, I love your sonnet blog. :)