NOTES FOR A SONNET

Standard

I fall in love with
what cannot be mine

a lilt of violins

mellow moonglow
glimmering over
freshly fallen snow

a bugbit maple leaf
a pale pink columbine

I want to grasp and hold
the glint and shine of
sunlight on the lake

that look I’ve known
in loving eyes

to never let them go
to own and keep them
evermore enshrined.

Not possible.
Impossible.
It cannot be.

Why even now
I fall in love again

with you

impossibly.
.
.
NOTES FOR A SONNET

67 responses »

  1. This is of course beautiful, Cynthia, and reaches out to any reader’s heart. Brave – again ; bravo you.
    I also love the idea of ‘notes towards …’. I can feel the rhythms and rhymes of a sonnet, and sense the turn, but it ‘fails’ to achieve the full sonnet form. And that reflects the content perfectly, that reaching for the impossible. I’m doubly full of admiration.

    • You are very kind, John, as always. I particularly like what you have said about making this a “notes toward…” poem. I have recently been reading a bit about the movements and counter-movements in American poetry of the past hundred years, from Pound’s, Eliot’s, and H.D.”s taking flight from Amy Lowell’s Imagism, to the rise of Confessional Poetry under the aegis of Robert Lowell, to the imagistic love affair with Eastern forms and the Deep Imagery of Robert Bly and on to the New Formalism and the Language Poets of today. I know where I stand in all of this, finally, but it’s wonderful to be able to borrow from the best of all of it….as I think this poem does. In the end, even if one follows a strict sonnet form, for example, (as you’ve done in your most recent excellent posting) we live in different times, and our diction itself is unlikely to mimic the past, whatever form we choose.

      • No kindness intended, Cynthia! I’ve been doing a lot of similar reading myself. By coincidence I have a poem drafted for my mini-series in homage to Shakespeare that has the working title “From Shakespeare’s Notebook: Towards Sonnet 73” which I’ll probably post last in a few weeks’ time, so you can see why I was so receptive to this one of yours. I do like the way the sonnet form, in your poem, seems to emerge from the mists and then sink back into them. Given the subject matter, this is so fitting: la forme et le fond.
        And did I mention that it’s beautiful?

        • And now you’ve whetted the poetic appetite! I have read and re-read your poems relative to Shakespeare—especially my very favorite: “Bottom Remembers Love,” and now I can look forward to a new one! I’ve noticed, even in the work of some bloggers we mutually follow, that writing sonnets gets under the skin, after awhile, and one’s writing easily falls into that form in unconscious ways. It’s as if it “takes over” the voice. Thank you, John, for the encouraging compliments, and especially for being a perceptive reader and fellow laborer in the field.

    • Elderly people live in memory, it is assumed (I don’t) and can’t possibly have dreams (for the future is quite close, and dreadfully known..) but you and I, as poets, are lucky in our imaginations…we can “give airy nothing a local habitation and a name.”

  2. While I am poetry illiterate I do experience the content deeply. And there you’ve gone and done it again! Isn’t it wonderful that someone else knows! ❀

    I was just visiting Sharon's blog and mentioned I thought it was time for me to learn one of your poems by heart [referring really to the content of your published tome] I think it might have to be this one!

    • Well of course you experience the content….you are the content-edcrafter! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist πŸ™‚ ) I’m glad you like this one, Pauline. You are not poetry illiterate, at all, but precisely the sort of astute reader upon whom I rely heavily to tell me how a poem works…assuming the form and the content are working together. I’m glad to hear that some people still learn poems by heart…..I do that too. I keep thinking it might come in handy one day if some twist of fate renders me unable to access my favorite literature. This could possibly mean we are a couple of dinosaurs. ❀

  3. There is loss in this poem, but my first impression was of a continued grasp of life, that flower, that light. It’s lovely, imbued with life and longing and loss.

      • It’s interesting, I’m a reader of poetry and I see its many layers. But I feel as though I’m getting an education in your comments–that John! It’s interesting to begin to understand how a poet might choose a form and how the incompleteness of a form can say something as well. No doubt I’ve been missing things in poetry, but that’s what re-reading is for as I get wiser and more learned! πŸ˜‰

        • I’m glad you’re a reader of poetry… we need more like you who take the time, who bring intelligence and intuition to it—and I’m especially glad you are a reader of my poetry.

  4. It’s funny how something so obvious can elude one for years … I never thought until this moment that “notes” has two meanings (at least) – and your title pointed it out. We have notes for a sonnet and notes for a sonnet – captured fragments, bits of melody,fleeting moments, transient images – somehow all combining like a fractured diamond to give a complete thing of beauty… gone…

    • So interesting that the dual meaning of ‘notes” suddenly struck you here, especially since you are both musician and writer; but I can understand it because it didn’t even occur to me until after I had lived with this poem’s working title for a little while. I always find it fascinating, too, how readers find things and see things, that I myself did not intend, at least not consciously. Your fractured diamond simile is splendiferous! Thanks, Bruce.

      • Letting go seems so much more difficult (I am thinking about Coetzee’s book “Disgrace” where letting go is the most difficult thing to do (and it is, in my view, too). Let go, the main character says, let go (but he cannot)

  5. Though the context here is very different, your first line reminded me of the Groucho Marx quote, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”. There is also a similarity though; deepest desires and feelings cannot be legislated.

    • What you say about the deepest desires is so true, Ankur; they are not ours to legislate. And though I realize that you realize the context here is different, I really had a great hilarious laugh about Groucho Marx, whom I never thought of, in relation to any of my poems. Otherwise, I am a definite fan—a convinced Marxist…..of the Groucho (not the Karl) kind!

  6. I love that you put your poems “out there” It is brave. Writing is brave. After I read your poem I thought “life is beautiful even with the pain and loss some of us have to bear.” I am glad I think that.
    ❀

    • I guess it isn’t really brave, in my case, because writing seems necessary, for me, and putting it out there seems a natural corollary. It goes a bit with what I read on the “About” page of your blog, the answer you gave your son when he asked “Why are we here?”… I loved reading your answer to his question….I can only paraphrase, from memory: we are here to learn what we enjoy and to spend our lives doing it for ourselves and for others. πŸ™‚

      • Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I have written stories my whole life but never put one “out there”. However my friend came up with the “tell me a story” idea and I decided to “bite hard on that bullet) LOL and read a short children’s bedtime story I wrote out loud on the 13th June. I am ridiculously, happily excited. πŸ˜€

  7. Utterly captivating Cynthia. The rhythms, in your words, the imagery and the meaning, roll effortlessly and intertwine to produce a perfect piece. As was said above, a great piece to memorize or simply remember. Beautiful!

  8. Oh, Cynthia! This is just exquisite and breaks my heart open with its sheer simplicity and dart-to-the-heart truth! Your words bring tears to my eyes this beautiful Spring Ohio morning. Thank you so very much for your generosity in sharing all this beauty and your heart.

    • I love that expression: dart to the heart….Thank you, Julie. I’m glad you have a beautiful spring morning in Ohio…we seem to alternate sunny and gloomy days this Spring, and the flowers seem slower than usual. Soon you will be making your pilgrimage east. I hope we get a chance to connect, one way or the other.

  9. The poem builds beautifully till the conclusion that would have otherwise stood naked for the mundaneness of common human longing, not that each step of the journey didn’t qualify for a yearning in its own right.

    I think I am falling in love with your poems, Little Old Lady Who.

    • That’s so nice! ( It’s a secret, but I’ll tell you: I usually write my blog address as “littleoldladywho” for the yodeling sound of it; I took it from an old joke that we have around here:

      Q.: “Knock, knock…”
      A.: “Who’s there?”
      Q.: “Little old lady…”
      A.: “Little old lady who?”
      Q.: “Wow! I didn’t know you could yodel!” πŸ™‚ )

      Thank you, umashankar, I really appreciate your coming to read and your very encouraging comment.

  10. I cannot be studious and articulate in the face of this poem. As I often do when I read your work, I just sit gape-mouthed in front of the screen and say “Wow” and then it takes me a few days to screw up the courage to say something sensible about how it affects me.

    My daughter’s cherry tree (hers because it arrived at the time of her baby shower) is in full bloom and I’ve been trying to photograph it to capture it’s glow but none of the images capture the feeling the way your poem does especially this bit:
    “I want to grasp and hold
    the glint and shine”

    • Gape-mouthed and wow are responses I probably love more than studious and articulate…though both are always gratefully accepted. Thank you, my friend.

      We are definitely in an era of the easy, ubiquitous photograph, and I am constantly trying to think through what I intuit are the differences between a photo image and an image prompted by words–in the image-ination. The poetry movement called Imagism—early 20th century—has held sway for so long, that it is now often considered the definition of poetry itself. I’ve made the conscious decision not to use graphic imagery on this poetry blog for that very reason. (I remember how proud I was, as a child, when I could enjoy reading a whole book that was not a picture book!). For poetry, I’ve chosen to foster the music, the sound, instead, and leave the pictures to be not as static as a photo, not as definite and closed-off before the poem is even encountered…. more dynamic and left to the imagination of the reader. There’s always the hope that words can do that.

      • Part of the disappointment of the photograph is that it can’t catch the feeling I have when I look at it which is partly wonder at the glow of the blossoms and the memory of happiness at the arrival of my daughter. Using the sound of words – the notes – might be a better way to capture it.Your comments are always stimulating, Cynthia!

  11. o love the impossible is a dream of love .
    Personally I think love has no age and is eternal . Even if we could not reach it , love exists and even offers itself to us on unexpected ways . To seize.
    I loved your comment Cynthia anout love in sisterhood
    Love ❀
    Michel

    • Of course I agree: love has no age, and is eternal. it is what makes this human life worth living. Thank you, Michel…and I’m glad you liked that comment. The love between sisters can be a very special thing.

  12. This poem conveys beauty and sadness and yet love transcends. It reminds me of Tennyson
    “‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.”
    Those who have loved deeply, such as yourself, have received a precious gift to treasure as I know that you do!
    The ensuing commentary and blog exchange make good reading. I enjoyed both!

    • Thank you for reminding me of those lines from Tennyson…they have become so often quoted, but I didn’t remember they were his. There’s a tendency after a time to think most quotables come from Shakespeare, or Mark Twain, when they don’t. Poor Alexander Pope—whose birthday was commemorated this week— often misses the credit due him for some very famous couplets and aphorisms. I always look forward and appreciate your comments, Jane, and their contribution to the tapestry here….which I’m glad to hear that you enjoy reading!

  13. Who does not fall in love immediately with the lacustrine sheen of waters woken by the gentle hand of the sun? Impossible for me to imagine…

  14. As you touched on earlier, these are modern times and there is room for both in terms of the sonnet, and this encapsulates modernity in its draft form or notes guise – it is represented. A skilful and clever achievement of form to amplify the words…grief embedded and longing dripping slowly throughout. Beautiful.

    • Hello Anita! Thank you for coming to read and comment. I notice you have been browsing about the archives here, and I have been to visit your site as well….only briefly, but I shall return. I love your image of the slow drip….to describe this poem, and greatly appreciate your kind words.

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