365 Sonnets is completed! While there be no more new posts, feel free to read the sonnets and comment! :)

You can read my new poetry at Some Turbid Night: :)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sonnet LXI

A field of emerald, all spotless now,
Fresh littered with the corpses of the dead.
In heaps they lay, those jaundiced conquerors,
All massacred, in thousands – ah, but how?

Of course by cruel beheadings and the like
by human murderers with weeding tools,
who ripped them all from tarnished, bloodstained grounds.
The children, mothers…all their heads on pikes.

They’re dandelions, stupid, human fools.
They’re plants, not weeds that grow – why should they die?
“They’re ugly!”…No they’re not; they’re yellow-bright.
And now they’re dead, all murdered by us ghouls.

Oh what a war, oh what a war indeed!
A fool’s crusade against those blameless weeds.


  1. i might like the old one better... but this is still good. a bit gory and exasperated but good. Oh, and people pull out dandelion because the push out the grass and other plants, basically not letting the other plants grow...

  2. Thanks Phoenix and Alice :)

    Alice! "a bit gory and exasperated but good"...exactly what I wanted. It shows the foolishness of human aesthetics. The first one was more of outlining how stubbornness (persistence) should be important in life to survive, but it turned out wrong. But the idea of dandelion being selfish...I like that, probably going to put into another one.

  3. The rewrite is strong, and I like it. "The children, mothers...all their heads on pikes"--a very striking image.

    When I was writing my sonnet-year I often found that the constraints of the form and rhyme scheme forced me to come up with different ways to say things, and in fact sometimes I ended up saying something different than I started out intending to say--which to me was not disappointing at all, but exciting; often the thing I was "forced" into saying turned out more interesting and powerful than what I originally had in mind--and occasionally, closer to my true feelings.

    An author--I can't remember who--once wrote "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" I can relate. :)

    Anyway, I hope you make some of these exciting discoveries too as you go along--I think it's one of the many pleasures of writing formal verse rather than free, because it challenges you in that way and makes you carefully consider everything. Which is not to say (good) free verse poets DON'T do that--just that I, who suck at free verse, need that restriction.

  4. I've been finding this too. Sonnets are difficult, but a lot of fun, and you find you examine your own thoughts so much more carefully in retrospect and during the writing. The standards for writing formal poetry are also so much higher; there's so much more to aspire to and so many talented people to learn from (nudges person above). I think it's a great challenge and certainly more rewarding and entertaining than the free verse that is so popular.

    I find my free verse boring. After the first read it loses the appeal.

  5. >>After the first read it loses the appeal.

    I know what you mean. One of my poetry heroes, Jack Butler (if you can find a copy of his amazing 80s poetry collection The Kid Who Wanted to Be a Spaceman on eBay or somewhere, BUY IT. You won't be disappointed) observed once that while free verse can be powerful and moving when done well, the fact was that if you asked any poetry lover to recite some favorite memorized poetry, it would almost certainly be formal stuff--the meter and rhyme helps it stick in the brain, not just b/c of ease of memorization, but because of the association of ideas.

    I wrote a long essay at the end of my Project about what I'd learned from it that had a lot of my thoughts about formal poetry vs. free verse, etc.--if you're interested, you can read it here. Not that I think I'm an amazing thinker or anything, but I can at least claim experience... :)

  6. I certainly did NOT mean to say free verse loses its appeal after the first read. I was meaning that I found my free verse empty and dull (though one of the poems won a local poetry competition at a writer’s festival). I definitely agree that good free verse writers are out there, but I’m not one of them. I can’t think in an abstract way poetically. I think I tend to be more concrete in poetry and therefore metred verse gives me a chance to curb, refine, and explore my emotions and thoughts. Free verse in itself is excellent because there’s that freedom in line spaces and punctuation and rhyme and capitalization and so much more that naturally lends itself to equally powerful expression and drama in free verse that the confines of metred verse will not allow as easily. I think free verse poets can exploit that freedom, but I butcher, abuse, or mutilate it because it’s just too limitless for me. So I turned to metred verse. I’m not saying formal poetry is better in any way; free and metred verse poetry have their own strengths and weaknesses. Sorry for the confusion...I love free verse and think it’s great people also value my free verse too, but everybody needs to find what suits them and I've turned to metred verse and I'm turning back reluctantly.


A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.

I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

- Emily Dickinson

Thanks, Wordle!