Home Forums Poetry Challenge Week 2: Sonnets

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    • Kim Simpson
      Forum Administrator
        Post count: 42

        Charlotte Smith, ‘Written at the Close of Spring’

        THE garlands fade that Spring so lately wove,
        Each simple flow’r, which she had nurs’d in dew,
        Anemonies that spangled every grove,
        The primrose wan, and harebell, mildly blue.

        No more shall violets linger in the dell,
        Or purple orchis variegate the plain,
        Till Spring again shall call forth every bell,
        And dress with humid hands her wreaths again.—

        Ah, poor Humanity! so frail, so fair,
        Are the fond visions of thy early day,
        Till tyrant Passion, and corrosive Care,
        Bid all thy fairy colours fade away!

        Another May new buds and flow’rs shall bring;
        Ah! Why has Happiness—no second Spring?


        We are looking for sonnets with:
        – 14 lines
        – A regular rhyme scheme
        – Iambic pentameter (10 syllables per line)

        Watch this space for exercises to help get you started, and we look forward to reading your Smith-like sonnets!

        Charlotte Smith, Elegiac Sonnets, 5th edn.

      • Kim Simpson
        Forum Administrator
          Post count: 42

          TASK 1
          Practice with iambic pentameter.

          One of the most important parts to get
          Is writing in iambic pentameter [unavoidable extra syllable here – forgive us!]
          Ten syllables per line – no more, no less
          One unstressed and one stressed like a heartbeat:
          bum BA bum BA bum BA bum BA bum BA!
          bum BA bum BA bum BA bum BA bum BA!

          To warm up, try writing a few lines using iambic pentameter to describe something around you, like the garden or a good cup of tea!

        • Maria Lucia Riccioli
            Post count: 17

            I am trying in Italian.. our sonnets are different from yours but I want to try to hommage your Literature.


            La primavera è un sogno che sarà.
            Un fiore s’infutura mentre è.
            Non pensa a quello che succederà,
            profuma il mondo dal prato dov’è.

            Finestra aperta al mondo come è,
            destino al sole che oggi spunterà,
            aroma denso come di caffè,
            il primo che al mattino salirà.

            Pensiamo a vivere, vivi così,
            gemelli di ogni fiore, perché no?
            Diciamo al giorno nuovo sempre sì,
            domani non lo so quel che farò.

            Il cielo una poesia sempre più blu,
            un mare di speranza. Lo vuoi tu?

            • Kim Simpson
              Forum Administrator
                Post count: 42

                Wonderful! We imagine this must sound absolutely beautiful when spoken – Google translate almost certainly doesn’t do it justice!

            • Olivia Sykes
                Post count: 17

                An Elegy to My Youth

                A fairy sparkles among the flowers.
                Her eyes are trained on a book for hours.
                She laughs with ease, her life only knows joy.
                In her mind are dreams no one can destroy.

                Nestled in the heart of her family,
                she beams; her time has come…she is ready!
                The wings at her sides stretch and she glides high.
                Far from her home, around the Earth she flies.

                The big world’s magic is endlessly bright.
                Her eyes are bewitched by each new delight
                until she is blinded and falls, falls, falls…
                To her, the old, friendly tree seems to call.

                In the nest, she does not fit; all seems new.
                The nest stayed the same…it was she who grew.

                • Kim Simpson
                  Forum Administrator
                    Post count: 42

                    A little magic on a rainy Wednesday morning – thank you Olivia! We think you’ve done a brilliant job of capturing Smith’s slightly mournful tone with this elegy.

                • Kim Simpson
                  Forum Administrator
                    Post count: 42

                    TASK 2
                    Choose your rhyme scheme.

                    Another defining characteristic of the sonnet is the rhyme scheme, notably different for each form. For the English sonnet, stick to the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG structure. Each of the stanzas has a different purpose: the first quatrain established the theme/subject, the second develops it, the third rounds off the theme, and the couplet at the end adds a conclusion. Although not every sonnet follows this idea, it’s a good place to start for new sonneteers!

                    Coming up with a list of rhyming words to use in your sonnet is a great place to start getting the creative juices flowing!

                  • Lis Ricketts
                      Post count: 17

                      The field

                      This field was once just open, barren, green
                      And trees stood stark and empty against the sky
                      But each day their silhouettes soften , as unseen
                      Leaf and bud unfurl and reach up high

                      The grass is not now uniform in colour
                      But a medley of white ,yellow, pink and blue
                      As flowers open their petals hour by hour
                      And carpet the dull earth with varied hue

                      This world is warming ,opening gladly to the sun
                      And all around is springing into life and flower,
                      But my world is closing down and all undone,
                      Each day, I walk this field alone for just an hour

                      Although new signs of life I daily spy
                      I feel we’re out of step, this field and I .

                      • Kim Simpson
                        Forum Administrator
                          Post count: 42

                          A poignant poem for these times – thank you Lis!

                      • Nancy Peters
                          Post count: 17

                          Sonnet for a hillside lost

                          As dusk’s cool hue creeps o’er the wooded hill,
                          The soil heaves one last earthy, scented sigh,
                          Through darkened trunks the pheasant’s evening  trill,
                          Calls time on daylight’s brashly painted eye.

                          Upon this calm, this sleeping shadowed mound,
                          Soft sunken lanes and chalky fields so fair,
                          Hide trails of lovers, decades etched in ground,
                          Mere fragile threads their secrets now laid bare.

                          Alas! For now this twilight must recoil,
                          As time rips forth and wrenches root from clod,
                          I weep to see the ‘dozer’s angry spoil,
                          Dusk’s gauzy beauty tramped beneath the sod.

                          Forever in my heart this thrilling time,
                          No concrete strangled silence will be mine.

                          [note:I haven’t written in a very long time, feedback welcome…!]

                          • Kim Simpson
                            Forum Administrator
                              Post count: 42

                              A wonderful, highly evocative and very accomplished sonnet – you don’t sound at all rusty! Particularly enjoyed the land as body imagery – the sighing soil, & brashly painted daytime look – & you’ve also captured Smith’s longing for something lost really well. Thank you Nancy!

                          • Tom Gelletlie
                              Post count: 17

                              Helvetia Grant Helvetia Grant
                              We’ve tried to forget you but we just can’t
                              Your smile your figure your heavenly hair
                              No wonder you drive us all to despair

                              Helvetia Grant Helvetia Grant
                              Love knows no bounds though you may be distant
                              Your eyes your laughter your gossamer skin
                              Virtues so many where can we begin

                              Helvetia Grant Helvetia Grant
                              It’s not life or death it’s more important
                              Your radiance shines though you may be gone
                              We worship the ground that you walked upon
                              Hopelessly ruled by our hearts not our head
                              We see a future – then fall out of bed

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