Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Sonnet

I have been very impressed by how you have wrestled and fought with iambic pentameter over the past couple of tasks. I think it is proving a little harder than some of you anticipated, but you are making real headway nonetheless. Iambic pentameter is the crucial building block, obviously - but so many of you have either cracked this now, or, if you haven't then you have ALMOST done so.

However, I am not convinced you are reading each other's attempts fully - and, even more importantly, each other's COMMENTS. It is from the moderators' comments and suggestions that you will learn the most - and they are making lots of extremely useful points every time. Have you tried out all their suggested ideas and strategies? Are you confident you are doing your best to learn from what they say? Please make the most of this valuable resource.

Best of all, however, some of you are managing to do so without sacrificing the power of your poetry itself. This is the real challenge: a synthesis of CONTENT (choice of language and what it is about) and FORM (rhyme, rhythm etc.). In fact, you can look at it mathematically:

powerful CONTENT + disciplined FORM = effective POETRY

Now for this week's task - and it's a DIFFICULT one. Your first, complete SONNET.

These are the rules of the English (or Shakespearean) SONNET:
  1. It must be written in IAMBIC PENTAMETER (i.e. x5 dee-DUMs)
  2. It will be 14 lines long, and consist of x3 quatrains (4 lines) and x1 final couplet (2 lines)
  3. It will have a strict rhyme scheme (abab cdcd efef gg) - please see me if you are not completely clear what this means.
The challenge is putting all these things TOGETHER!

And what should your sonnet be about? Well, I know I'm a couple of weeks late, but what better topic than to do as Shakespeare did, and write about LOVE?

So, good luck! And please make sure your attempts are online by midnight next Sunday 13th March.

Here's my attempt at a 'Valentine's Day' sonnet. See if you can find the one iambic error:

I'm ten years old when first I fall in love
And Jennifer is my beloved's name.
An angel who has tumbled from above,
She kindles in my heart a burning flame.
And when she asks to be my Valentine,
I can't believe what I am being told.
She offers me her heart; I give her mine,
Together with a chain of fakest gold.
But later, when she gives my love the sack,
Repudiating every vain embrace,
I make it clear I want the trinket back
And, tearful, Jenny throws it in my face.
Misunderstood and unrequited too,
My love found none deserving until you.

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