It’s no easy thing to write a sonnet. I spent some amount of time in college trying. I came very close to being a classics major. I spent a lot of time translating Aeschylus and Euripedes. There’s something appealing about trying to follow a set structure of rhyme and meter. Of course, there’s a reason to write that way–the words become music. “And rise and sink and rise and sink again;” It’s harder to get musical in prose, though I remember Vanessa Vaselka thinking through just this in a craft talk at Tin House Writer’s Workshop. I wish I would have listened more closely.
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain; Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink And rise and sink and rise and sink again; Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath, Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone; Yet many a man is making friends with death Even as I speak, for lack of love alone. It well may be that in a difficult hour, Pinned down by pain and moaning for release, Or nagged by want past resolution’s power, I might be driven to sell your love for peace, Or trade the memory of this night for food. It well may be. I do not think I would.