The Fret Of Tangled Purposes

Life

by Henrietta Cordelia Ray

Life! Ay, what is it? E’en a moment spun
From cycles of eternity. And yet,
What wrestling ’mid the fever and the fret
Of tangled purposes and hopes undone!
What affluence of love! What vict’ries won
In agonies of silence, ere trust met
A manifold fulfillment, and the wet,
Beseeching eyes saw splendors past the sun!
What struggle in the web of circumstance,
And yearning in the wingèd music! All,
One restless strife from fetters to be free;
Till, gathered to eternity’s expanse,
Is that brief moment at the Father’s call.
Life! Ay, at best, ’tis but a mystery.

 
 

Sonnet 35

 
by William Shakespeare
 
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud,
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authórizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are:
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense—
Thy adverse party is thy advocate—
And ‘gainst myself a lawful plea commence.
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
   That I an áccessory needs must be
   To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
 

I’ll Trace You

Annie Finch

The next time you hear someone in a workshop remarking on how good a particular free-verse line or passage sounds, scan it. The odds are that it will fall into a regular metrical pattern.

Annie Finch

Final Autumn

By Annie Finch
 
Maple leaves turn black in the courtyard.
Light drives lower and one bluejay crams
our cold memories out past the sun,
 
each time your traces come past the shadows
and visit under my looking-glass fingers
that lift and block out the sun.
 
Come—I’ll trace you one final autumn,
and you can trace your last homecoming
into the snow or the sun.
 
 

 


Sonnet XII

by William Shakespeare

When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night,
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silvered o’er with white:
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard:
Then of thy beauty do I question make
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake,
And die as fast as they see others grow,
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed to brave him, when he takes thee hence.

With My Fortune Kiss

Lady Mary Wroth (1587 – 1651)
 
 
 

From a Crown Of Sonnets Dedicated to Love

I.

 
by Lady Mary Wroth
 

In this strange labyrinth how shall I turn?
Ways are on all sides, while the way I miss:
If to the right hand, there, in love I burn;
Let me go forward, therein danger is.
If to the left, suspicion hinders bliss;
Let me turn back, shame cries I ought return,
Nor faint, though crosses with my fortune kiss;
Stand still is harder, although sure to mourn.
Thus let me take the right, or left hand way,
Go forward, or stand still, or back retire:
I must these doubts endure without allay
Or help, but travail find for my best hire.
Yet that which most my troubled sense doth move,
Is to leave all, and take the thread of Love.

 

 

 

Sonnet 20

By William Shakespeare
 
A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change as is false women’s fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created,
Till nature as she wrought thee fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
      But since she pricked thee out for women’s pleasure,
      Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.
 

 

It Is Like A Memory Lost

Sonnet 97: How like a winter hath my absence been

By William Shakespeare
 
 
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov’d was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem’d to me
But hope of orphans and unfather’d fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.
 
 

Winter Sunrise

by Robert Laurence Binyon

It is early morning within this room; without,
Dark and damp; without and within, stillness
Waiting for day: not a sound but a listening air.

Yellow jasmine, delicate on stiff branches
Stands in a Tuscan pot to delight the eye
In spare December’s patient nakedness.

Suddenly, softly, as if at a breath breathed
On the pale wall, a magical apparition,

The shadow of the jasmine, branch and blossom!

It was not there, it is there, in a perfect image;
And all is changed. It is like a memory lost
Returning without a reason into the mind.

Don’t Believe Me, Please

Simon Armitage

We still need a voice that thinks before it speaks.

Simon Armitage

 

I Am Very Bothered

by Simon Armitage

I am very bothered when I think
of the bad things I have done in my life.
Not least that time in the chemistry lab
when I held a pair of scissors by the blades
and played the handles
in the naked lilac flame of the Bunsen burner;
then called your name, and handed them over.

O the unrivalled stench of branded skin
as you slipped your thumb and middle finger in,

then couldn’t shake off the two burning rings. Marked,
the doctor said, for eternity.

Don’t believe me, please, if I say
that was just my butterfingered way, at thirteen,
of asking you if you would marry me.

 


Romeo and Juliet’s first kiss, Act One, Scene Four

ROMEO [To JULIET]

If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

ROMEO

Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET

Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET

Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

ROMEO

Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.

If This Be Error

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1614)

Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love ’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

  .    .


A reader shared a link on an article on the most successful and likely profitable forgeries of written materials in history, scoundrels trying to make money from Shakespeare’s legacy.  There is very little  material that survived that has been authenticated to have been written in Shakespeare’s own hand and that dearth opened the door to forgers to try and take advantage.  The most enterprising and successful Shakespeare forger was William Ireland who in the 1790’s began forging manuscripts of Shakespeare’s plays.  His father became his unwitting accomplice when Ireland showed him his “findings” and because of his father’s standing in society and his absolute conviction the forgeries were authentic many Shakespeare scholars and collectors of the day were initially taken in by the scheme.  However, Ireland went too far when he attempted to create a “lost” unpublished Shakespeare play titled  Vortigern and Rowena.  The play was so poorly written that his forgery was completed unmasked when he foolishly attempted to stage a production and it bombed after one performance.   However, in an odd twist, after admitting his foolishness he continued to profit from by his scheme by making “authentic fakes”.


On Marriage

By Kahlil Gibran

Then Almitra spoke again and said,
And what of Marriage, master?
  .    .  And he answered saying:
    .    . You were born together, and together you
shall be forevermore.
     .    . You shall be together when the white
wings of death scatter your days.
.    .   Ay, you shall be together even in the
silent memory of God.
     .    . But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
     .    . And let the winds of the heavens dance
between you.

     .    .  Love one another, but make not a bond
of love:
    .    .  Let it rather be a moving sea between
the shores of your souls.
      .    .Fill each other’s cup but drink not from
one cup.
     .    . Give one another of your bread but eat
not from the same loaf.
     .    . Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
      .    .Even as the strings of a lute are alone
though they quiver with the same music.

       .    .Give your hearts, but not into each
other’s keeping.
     .    . For only the hand of Life can contain
your hearts.
      .    .And stand together yet not too near
together:
      .    .For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
      .    .And the oak tree and the cypress grow
not in each other’s shadow.

Thus From My Lips

Romeo and Juliet

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 2 Scene 2

What Will Not Be Spoken

by Rodney Jones

Because I had this faint memory of the thought
of a taste in my mouth and could not name it

I went through school sad I could not say it
if I had swallowed it or was it even edible

maybe I was too young when I first had it
I did not know the word yet though the taste stayed

as I grew older some nights I could nearly
describe it and would put my tongue to chalk

and paraffin and iodine and go into grocery stores
sniffing along every aisle thinking I would find it

but I did not find it until one day when
I was not looking there it was for an instant

it came to me I said it so I would remember
though in time I forgot that is why now I write


I think the official answer to the question of how many sonnets did Shakespeare write is 154, but I object!   History confirms there were two separate volumes of Shakespeare’s sonnets published, one in 1609 and one in 1640, both contain 154 sonnets so its easy to explain that answer.  I have two issues with the proclamation that 154 is correct.  First – the sonnet structure is deployed throughout his plays, either in full or in part, time and again.  If we include the sonnets contained within the 38 plays that Shakespeare wrote, it would add extensively to that list.  And second, why do we believe that the 154 sonnets that were published are the only ones he wrote?   Unlike his plays, in which many copies were published, edited and made public so they could be performed,  there is evidence that the publishing of his sonnets in 1609 was done without his consent.  The first edition was littered with errors, some of which have remained,  which suggest he was not directly involved in oversight of its publishing.  The sonnets content and  in some cases the casual nature of the writing, although brilliant but not polished suggest these were private poems intended for his lover, lovers or friends.  And because some of the content suggests he may have been bi-sexual and that if proven,  could have landed him in prison adds further evidence that he may not have intended for the sonnets to have been made public.   

But do we honestly believe that the 154 that were published are all the sonnets that Shakespeare wrote if these were private missives not intended for the public’s eyes and ears?  Maybe these poems were his way of satisfying his fantasies privately and he never wanted them to be shared.  Or, as prolific a writer as Shakespeare, maybe there were far more than 154 sonnets hidden about under pillows some place in England over his lifetime.   

Anyone who writes sonnets can tell you part of the reason they write them is they are ONLY 14 lines.  Sonnets still require a fair amount of work, but you aren’t writing Hamlet.  I write sonnets as play,  in part because I know if I get sick of the poem I am working on, I can quit, discard it and it isn’t like I have wasted six months on a draft of a screenplay I now hate.  I have a feeling that Shakespeare wrote sonnets as a way to relax and possibly as a way to not discard some ideas that maybe didn’t fit into the play he was writing at the time.  I think he wrote sonnets because he knew those he shared them with would enjoy them.  He may have written them to get laid.  And because poetry can have that desired effect on romance, my guess is its entirely possible that some of his best poetry died with the lucky lover who received it and no copy was left lying around to be discovered by whatever means the publisher acquired them. Regardless of what you believe about the conspiracy theories regarding the work attributed to Shakespeare possibly being penned by himself and others, despite no direct evidence that Shakespeare did not author everything attributed to him, it feels like the true answer to the question of how many sonnets did Shakespeare(s) write  – is a lot.  

One of the reasons that Shakespeare included the rhyme and meter of sonnets in portions of his plays are that 10 syllables is about what most people can say comfortably and project loudly in a theater on stage without taking a breath and second rhyme helps actors remember their lines.  The lines from this section of Romeo and Juliet below are 14 lines, with a rhyming convention of ababcdcdeef(e like)fg.  Is it a sonnet?  I think so but I am one to bend the rules a bit on what is and isn’t a sonnet. 

How would you classify the poem above by Rodney Jones?  All the lines have 10, 11 or 12 syllables, its fourteen lines long, but is it a sonnet? There is no rhyme at all, its certainly not a traditional sonnet, but how you interpret its construction depends on how you think about the influence of sonnets on poetry over time.  I offer these two poems up as evidence to the question as to how many sonnets did Shakespeare write in his lifetime?  You decide….  Have you ever sat down and read all 154 in a row in one sitting?  If you have, what jumped out at you as you progressed through the most famous sonnets of all time?  


Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 5, line 104)

by William Shakespeare

Juliet
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this:
For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.
Romeo
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?
Juliet
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in pray’r.
Romeo
O then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do,
They pray—grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
Juliet
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.
Romeo
Then move not while my prayer’s effect I take.
(Kisses her)
Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purg’d.
Juliet
Then have my lips the sin that they have took.
Romeo
Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urg’d!
Give me my sin again.

Justice Can Rise Up

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

The Cure of Troy

by Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013)

Human beings suffer.
They torture one another.
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

History says, Don’t hope
On the side of the grave,’
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea- change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles.
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing,
The utter self revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
And lightening and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.


It is the 21rst day, of the 21st year of the 21st Century.   I feel better already….


Sonnet 21

by William Shakespeare

So is it not with me as with that Muse,
Stirr’d by a painted beauty to his verse;
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use,
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse;
Making a couplement of proud compare,
With sun and moon, with earth and sea’s rich gems,
With April’s first-born flowers, and all things rare
That heaven’s air in this huge rondure hems.
O’ let me, true in love, but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair
As any mother’s child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fix’d in heaven’s air:
   Let them say more than like of hearsay well;
   I will not praise, that purpose not to sell

A Charm Of Powerful Trouble

Happy Halloween

Song of the Witches

by William Shakespeare

(From Macbeth)

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good


Something’s missing from the spirit of Halloween this year – oh that’s right – the fun. COVID 19 has kicked the proverbial stuffing out of the concept of having fun this year. I like Halloween. I enjoy having neighborhood kids come to my door and meet and greet parents throughout the night. I like the voluntary community spirit Halloween brings forth and the excitement of little children getting candy. What’s not to like about ghouls and goblin’s, witches and princesses, werewolves, clowns, monsters and super heroes visiting you with a big smile on their face. It pains me to be turning off my light this year, to not carve a pumpkin and generally ignore Halloween all under the guise of being responsible. When did responsibility have anything to do with a holiday that enables children to overdose on sugar?

On top of the just plain disappointment in general of turning my back on Halloween it’s the fact that this year is the perfect storm of total Halloweeness – it’s on a Saturday night with a full moon. Even in this current predicament, we should all feel compelled to go out and do a little howling. I’ll have to settle for making pumpkin bread and eating my mini Peanut M and M bags and mini Mounds bars in the dark.

Halloween is supposed to be a little bit campy, a little bit scary and a little bit naughty all rolled into one fun sized holiday, something Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, does well. So – if you are in need of a Halloween fun infusion, check out Elvira’s video below – singing her hit single (or is it a double?) – 2 Big Pumpkins. Happy Halloween!

Elvira – Mistress Of The Dark

Halloween Party

By Kenn Nesbitt

We’re having a Halloween party at school.
I’m dressed up like Dracula. Man, I look cool!
I dyed my hair black, and I cut off my bangs.
I’m wearing a cape and some fake plastic fangs.

I put on some makeup to paint my face white,
like creatures that only come out in the night.
My fingernails, too, are all pointed and red.
I look like I’m recently back from the dead.

My mom drops me off, and I run into school
and suddenly feel like the world’s biggest fool.
The other kids stare like I’m some kind of freak—
the Halloween party is not till next week.

And For Myself, No Quiet Find

Minds Eye
Mine Eye Is In My Mind

 

Sonnet XXVII

by William Shakespeare

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts–from far where I abide–
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.

 


I have always had a hard time reading or hearing Shakespeare prior to starting this project.  My mind doesn’t follow old English grammar and vocabulary easily. I get bogged down and frustrated following the plot and dialogue in the few Shakespeare plays I have seen live or movies made true to the old script I have watched.   I am afraid that biased me fairly negatively towards his sonnets in the past.  So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the longer Fourteen lines continues the easier it is for me to put myself inside Shakespeare’s sonnets.  My enjoyment of his complicated and witty verse continues to grow.

My daily social distancing has not been particularly intellectual. I have retreated to the simple pleasures of popcorn, games and mindless TV.  But the longer this goes on, the more restless my mind becomes and I can feel more serious pursuits starting to push towards the front of my mind as fall looms.  Maybe my brain is starting to awaken again after sheltering in place for a bit.

I recently got my hair cut for the first time since January.   My stylist asked me; “how was your quarantine?”  For a moment my mind couldn’t wrap itself around the question, realizing how chipper he was when he said it.  I could tell he was brimming with excitement to share his experience, which was refreshingly upbeat. I let him do all the talking. In the end I did what midwesterners do, I simply didn’t answer the question as sometimes silence is better than being gloomily honest.

I wonder what my brain would look like in an MRI section right now?  Would it look elegant and complicated as in the video below?  Or would it look like a big bowl of popcorn, simple and satisfying but not particularly motivating. What does your brain look like right now?   What colors is it radiating based on the current palete of your mind.?


Sonnet CXIII (113)

By William Shakespeare

Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind;
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out;
For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth latch:
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch;
For if it see the rud’st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour or deformed’st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
The crow, or dove, it shapes them to your feature.
Incapable of more, replete with you,
My most true mind thus maketh mine eye untrue.