Thursday, March 05, 2015

A little song.

Today we talked about sonnets in poetry class. A little poem, a little song. I had the chance to think again about what for me is one of the most perfectly beautiful of poems,

I love this poem for its beautiful iambic rhythms. I love it for the way it darkens, and for the beauty that the poet enkindles from that darkening. I love, even, the turn at the end to the poem's summation. The poem earns its summation, because of the beautiful way it has given embodiment to it in the previous twelve lines.

This poem is so much a paragon for me that sometimes I forget to read it all the way to its end, or even to its middle:
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
Today, two students presented about the sonnet. One of them read some of the most beautiful sonnets ever written as if they were poncey frilly things. There's something about this language and its decorum--its sharp keeping of a code--that can seem very old fashioned, I suppose, to very young people. Anyway, you don't get anywhere by holding that against them. You just have to demonstrate how to give yourself to that music, that very solemn and steady music, because sometimes, slow, deliberate, vivid and heartbreaking song is what's called for. It's the only thing whatsoever that will do.
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


  1. I love how the bare ruined choirs look like bar lines on sheet music look like branches in the winter. Sonnets! This is my fave Shakespeare sonnet:

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state,
    And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
    And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
    Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
    Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
    Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
    With what I most enjoy contented least;
    Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
    Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
    Like to the lark at break of day arising
    From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
    For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

    And no, you can't hold it against them. Frilly might lead to full love some day.

  2. Nik quoted my favorite sonnet of all time. I read this to John at our wedding. No frills there, just the embodiment of pure, true love. I must needs go read some poetry now.

  3. Sigh. So. Beautiful.



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