Thursday, April 6, 2017

One Bad Sonnet

Please point out any badly-chosen word,
My lapses of technique, my tortured form.
You say you have a knowledge of the norm,
And yet, your silence is the broadside heard.
Your criticism, welcomed for a third
And most emphatic time, would not deform
The growth of my intention. If a storm
Is what you have to offer, then be stirred.


Clay might froth and slide beneath a spate,
But deeper seeds take root, and they survive.
Rolling warps the structure of the skelp,
But bending brings a needed change of state.
Your promises of old remain alive;
A critic who says nothing is no help.

Let's take this dead thing apart to see how it died.

Although it is, in formal terms, a legitimate Petrarchan sonnet, and although its octave does rely on trochees and enjambment to break up the sing-song patterns of iambic pentameter, the sestet does not; as a result, the language on the whole seems rigid, stillborn.

This dead feeling is reinforced by a lack of concrete verbs. "Froth and slide" is not bad, but none of the other verbs brings imagery or texture to mind. For this reason, the sonnet feels less like a poem than a series of abstract statements.

As you can see, I'm no critic, but even I can spell out the flaws in a chunk of bad verse. As you can also see, I welcome criticism. I thrive on it. The one thing I cannot handle is the silence of those who promised to take my work apart, and then said nothing.

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