Monday, August 29, 2011

The pedigree


I'm still working on my spreadsheet of poet laureates. Each time I read another PLOTUS' poem or biography, I grab my spreadsheet, add another tidbit of information, and then I sit back in awe of these people. 

Sonnets. A few PLsOTUS wrote sonnets. When we think of sonnets, Shakespeare usually comes to mind. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day..." Sonnet 18. Shakespeare is credited with writing over 150 sonnets, often reflecting on his love for a woman and mostly all in iambic pentameter. 

Iambic pentameter. That means it is written with five (penta) beats to the line. Usually the beat goes like this: 
da/DUM/da/DUM/da/DUM/da/DUM/da/DUM
to/BE/or/NOT/to/BE/that/IS/the/QUESTION. 
Got it? (I had to count to be sure it really had five beats. And yes, some of Shakespeare's finest sonnets were not stand alone poems, but married into his plays). 

OK, not all sonnets are iambic pentameter and not all reflect on a love for a lover. I'm not going to go into Spenserian sonnets or Petrachan sonnets in this post. I'll wait until I add that column to my spreadsheet...

BUT, the point is, some of our PLsOTUS wrote sonnets! 

Louise Brogran, poet laureate 1945-46, often wrote of love and grief. Sonnets suited her style. 
"Since you would claim the sources of my thought
Recall the meshes whence it sprang unlimed,"
(poem titled SONNET  by Louise Brogran, 1923)

It is not hard to feel the love and anguish in Brogran's poem.

And Billy Collins, poet laureate 2001-2003, wrote a sonnet, too. 
"All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans..."
(from Sonnet, by Billy Collins)

You get the idea of Collin's sonnet, too. 

The sonnet column on my spreadsheet of PLsOTUS has a few more entries. But sonnets have a pedigree. Sonnets can be pure; maybe they should be. But like dogs, pedigrees don't always mean much. Our dogs?
Their pedigrees aren't apparent. 
But I look at each and I see a sonnet.
A poem of love in perfect rhyme.

6 comments:

Sandra said...

my favorite poetry is the face looking at me in these photos. so beautiful and i like the cool shade

altadenahiker said...

I've heard that Orson Wells, as a precocious high school student, always spoke in iambic pentameter. Which makes for a great story, but I doubt he dated much.

Banjo52 said...

AH, good one!

Dog as poem, poem as dog--I like that a lot. My problem with non-pedigree sonnets is that some poets turn their dogs into Martian muskrats and door stoppers instead of dogs.

Most metered poetry isn't even supposed to be perfectly regular. It gets all hickory dickory dock-y. But I've seen poems labeled "sonnet" by the poet, when the work doesn't have 14 lines or the sense of 6 lines responding to the previous 8, or the last 2 to the previous 12--never mind the traditional rhyme and meter. So why does the poet try to pass it off as a sonnet? He wants a CHEAP, FRAUDULENT PEDIGREE, that's why!

Does the muskrat try to pass himself off as a dog or Martian or a door stop? No!

Let there be no damned Dograts or Muskmarts. It's OK, even better, just to leave some things alone.

Well, I 'spect I've got everybody purty worked up now. Sorry, Brenda. This ain't even my property.

Rohrerbot said...

Clever post!

Thérèse said...

I like very much this idea of pl. poets' spread sheet.
Pure pedigree is not always a plus for dogs... we lost our dogs much too soon...
But Love is what matters in all things after all.

Pat Tillett said...

Love them pups!
Poets who write strictly by meter might have been better served if they went into engineering...
Good post Brenda!