Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Your Contemplative Snow, Your Winter Fire

An early version of the sonnet posted here has a major technical flaw: the repetition of two end-rhymes within the body of the verse (Your and seems). I've tried to fix it.

Within the loving cradle of my hands,
The roundness of your head is all entire:
One gentle shape, and all you might require
To house the inner skies and hidden lands,
The river lights, the pebbled autumn strands,
Your contemplative snow, your winter fire,
The rising, fading clouds of your desire --
All held within, as habit understands.

Yet there it is, behind your eyes: the gleam
Of seas that overwhelm the level coast,
The storms that shake the rigid trees apart.
Concealed within the woman that you seem,
A mob of wounded women forms a host,
To batter down the bulwarks of your heart.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Two Levels

Something I've noticed while talking with francophones in my town --

English is unusual: it has two levels of grammar. The first is inconsistent, but relatively easy to learn, and it allows people to speak with ease, confidence, and clarity. The second level is hidden, and pops up when we try to write with a similar ease, confidence, and clarity; we find this harder than we had thought, because the hidden level of grammar now makes demands on us. The subjunctive mood, case forms, complexities of tense: we can talk all night and straight through to dawn without using them, but when we write, we need to understand their functions.