I stopped at the gate of a rich city.
I had everything the gods required;
I was ready; the burdens
of preparation had been long.
And the moment was the right moment,
the moment assigned to me.
Why were you afraid ?
The moment was the right moment;
response must be ready.
On my lips,
the words trembled that were
the right words. Trembled-
And I knew that if I failed to answer
quickly enough, I would be turned away.
|Durham Cathedral engraving by William Miller after J M W Turner, published in Picturesque Views in England and Wales. From Drawings by J.M.W. Turner, engraved under the superintendence of Mr. Charles Heath with descriptive and historic illustrations by H.E. Lloyd. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1838. Rawlinson 297
Earthly Terror, by Louise Glück , from The Making of a Sonnet, eds. Edward Hirsch and Eavan Boland
Image from Wikimedia Commons
I can’t sleep in case a few things you said
no longer apply. The matter’s endless,
but definitions alter what’s ahead
and you and words are like a hare and tortoise.
Aaaagh there’s no description — each a fractal
sectioned by silences, we have our own
skins to feel through and fall back through — awful
to make so much of something so unknown.
But even I — some shower-swift commitments
are all you’ll get; I mustn’t gauge or give
more than I take — which is a way to balance
between misprision and belief in love
both true and false, because I’m only just
short of a word to be the first to trust.
by Alice Oswald from The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile (Oxford 1996).
I am adding here the Library Thing link for The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile by Alice Oswald. I wrote a brief polemic last week about the decision of the two poets , Alice Oswald and John Kinsella, to leave the T.S Eliot Prize, but I do hope that people will do their own reading on the issues surrounding their decisions. There are a some sonnets on this blog and a few of these are taken from the magnificent Norton Anthology, The Making of a Sonnet , edited by Eavan Boland and Edward Hirsch , which I’d recommend to lovers of the sonnet form.
On the Other Hand.
by Phyllis Levin
” The leaves of the ivy
Are heavy today.
Even we are too heavy,
Their shadows say :
Nothing moves us,
We cannot stray
Across a walkway.
But glory is still green.
Against a screen
Unlatches the door,
There, there, now
from : The Making of a Sonnet , Edited by Edward Hirsch and Eavan Boland . A Norton Anthology 2008.