Thursday, May 31, 2012

A sonnet in as few words as possible

Another deadline, taken to the wire.  The only way I do things really.  Some months ago now Lorenzo daPonte (the blogger formerly knows as BB), issued a challenge to write a sonnet in as few words as possible, the results to be announced on the 1st of June.  So here we are on the 31st May, and I'm posting my effort. (which reminds me tomorrow is the 15th anniversary of our coming to live here in Brittany).  It's 56 words, I've no idea if that's at all a low word count for a sonnet.  I suppose theoretically and if you weren't all that fussed about conventional sentence structure you could write one with one polysyllabic word per line but it wouldn't be easy.  This one is a conventional Shakespearian job, which I don't usually go for, but as the poetic muse seems largely to have deserted me and gone off to powder her nose, even a bit of facetious versifying like this is something.

Inspirational daPonte, that
tirelessly charming persiflager,
luminary of my commentariat,
proposes playfully a wager:

reductionistic sonneteering - make,
Italianate Petrarchan, or Miltonic,
Wordsworthian, Spenserian or Shake-
spearian form - example most laconic.

Yet minimalising semantemes, while meeting
pentametrical demands - conjunctions,
prepositions, articles, pronouns deleting -
linguisticality, alas, malfunctions.

Syllabic prodigality alone
provides excessive flesh, deficient bone.



Roderick Robinson said...

Since you decided to test my editorial nerve-endings by shoving right up against the deadline (potentially leaving me with space to fill) I have retrospectively changed the rules and published the two entries today (May 31) instead of tomorrow. That way I may get a few comment crumbs that might otherwise have got lodged in Box Elder.

When I was still professionally employed I used to give contributors false deadlines so that I could then grant them a 24-hour extension, knowing I still had five days in hand. Retirement has dulled my wits. Thank you for applying the steel.

And thanks enormously for accepting the challenge.

Kathleen said...

Oh, wonderful! Clever, inventive, and so compact!

HLiza said...

I hardly know what a sonnet made me google for it just now! We have a translation of it in Malay called 'sonata' but in our tradition the one resembling this sonnet form of poetry is what we called 'pantun'. I do badly in 'pantun'..cannot crack my head finding the words of same sound for the endings haha. You did it so beautifully. Happy 15th year in Brittany..I've enjoyed it from yr account for the past 5 years!

Lucy said...

Lorenzo - I enjoyed it. The deadline trick with your underlings was a good one, until of course they sussed it and knew they'd have 24 hours leeway, rather like setting one's bedside clock five minutes fast to steal a march on oneself.

Kathleen - nice to see you, thanks.

Hliza - you too! Pantoums exist in English too, taken from Malay, and also I think in French, Victor Hugo introduced them in the 19th century. I'll try to write you one!

Lucy said...

Oh yes, meant to say, Hliza, thanks for the happy 15th, it seems quite strange that for more than a third of our time here I've been blogging it.

HKatz said...

The last lines made me laugh. And my hat goes off to you for rhyming Miltonic with laconic.

marja-leena said...

Oh, this is fantastic, so clever and humorous - another proof of your ability with words - (a facility I always envy). And happy 15th year in Brittany, and wishes for many more!

tristan said...

wow !!!

hot stuff !!!

HLiza said...

i didn't know that lucy, that's so interesting!

Marly Youmans said...

Send it to "Light Quarterly!"