More Worth Than Gold

Anna Seward

December Morning

by Anna Seward

1742-1809

I love to rise ere gleams the tardy light,
Winter’s pale dawn; and as warm fires illume,
And cheerful tapers shine around the room,
Through misty windows bend the musing sight
Where, round the dusky lawn, the mansions white,
With shutters closed, peer faintly through the gloom,
That slow recedes; while yon gray spires assume,
Rising from their dark pile, an added height
By indistinctness given. Then to decree
The grateful thoughts to God, ere they unfold
To friendship or the Muse, or seek with glee
Wisdom’s rich page. Oh, hours more worth than gold
By whose blest use we lengthen life, and, free
From drear decays of age, outlive the old.

 

William Walond (1719 – 1768)  Voluntary V in G Major Op. 1 (1752)

There is an advantage to being an amateur and not having a degree in English; literature remains a source of constant surprise. I don’t have the baggage of thinking I know very much and since my interest in sonnets is pure entertainment, I have no ponderous academic credentials weighing me down in my free time.  The internet makes it possible for me to uncover sonnets from throughout history with only a dogged curiosity required.

I discovered Anna Seward long before I wrote Gallant Ghosts, Undaunted. In the drafts of my sonnet I was careful to avoid any connection to December Morning.  As time went on I kept coming back to both poems. Originally I concluded mine with a different couplet at the end.  It was forced and wasn’t what I wanted to say.  I felt like I was creating an unnecessary barrier. Literature is filled with conscious and unconscious connections to writers work that have come before. The idea of originality can be debated endlessly with someone always able to point to the step in history upon which the avant-garde have risen.

I finally relented and consciously created a connection between the sonnets with the ending and the word illumine.  An old garret in England the perfect fictional setting for thinking back upon the end of a love affair within a modern sonnet.

Gallant Ghosts, Undaunted

by T. A. Fry

I think of you, writing late in the nightfall
Revering your muse, as no other may place
Claims to a heart.  Forever a rightful
Palace of dreams,  once my saving grace.
What’s mine is yours,  our auspices blessed
By memories of loving which illumine my soul.
On Darkest Night(s) as you slowly undress,
recall my touch, though its loss be a toll.

Come gallant ghosts, lay down by my side
Undaunted: whisper poems long written for me.
Their haunting passion shall always reside
Deep in bruised hearts, a grand larceny.
Timeless this beauty, in mind’s eye I hold,  
The feel of your lips and outlive the old.

Gallant Ghosts, Undaunted

IMG_1557I have ghosts on my mind this week,  with Halloween, The Day of the Dead and All Saints Day all swirling beneath the surface.  A good yarn, which is all any poem should aspire, at least the ones that keep my attention, require some truth,  a truth worth tending.   The question is always how much truth comes from a writer’s imagination and how much from their experience?  Truth in literature may be fabricated entirely.   An empathetic phrase by which we catch a collective breath of understanding.

I write primarily in first person.   I realize that this may create confusion for anyone who knows me personally and chooses to view the narrative as literal.   What is real and what is not real?  Isn’t that the cloak behind which all writers hide and invent a reality worthy of putting to paper.

We don’t have Shakespeare’s blog or twitter feed to gain further insights into his poetry.  He left the interpretation of his writing to the reader.   But make no mistake,  Love plays a role in all this business. A most generous Love, a Love that both clasps hearts in irons and springs the lock of freedom.

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, in my view, is a mirror in which to view myself.   Yes, it is hubris to put one of my sonnets alongside Shakespeare’s and pretend they belong in the same space.  But then isn’t it hubris that drives any of us to write in the first place?   My sonnet, Gallant Ghosts, Undaunted, was written during the tail spin of a relationship. It is a fictional Polaroid of a future yet to be experienced, but hoped for with an optimism of forgiveness.  I was delusional.  Hell hath no fury…..

It is a connection to a beginning and an homage to the role that poetry played throughout our relationship.  I am fully aware that the last few words are identical to a sonnet from the 1700s.   I will share the story behind that fact in the next blog.

Sonnet 29

By William Shakespeare

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,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
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 remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

 

 

Gallant Ghosts, Undaunted

by T. A. Fry

I think of you, writing late in the nightfall
Revering your muse, as no other may place
Claims to a heart, forever a rightful
Palace of dreams,  once my saving grace.
What’s mine is yours,  our auspices blessed
By memories of loving which illumine my soul.
On Darkest Night(s) as you slowly undress,
Recall my touch, though its loss be a toll.

Come gallant ghosts, lay down by my side
Undaunted: whisper poems long written for me.
Their haunting passion shall always reside
Deep in bruised hearts, a grand larceny.
Timeless this beauty, in mind’s eye I hold,  
The feel of your lips and outlive the old.

________________________________

© T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to T. A. Fry and Fourteenlines with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.