Monday, August 1, 2011

I Dare You

 Today I’m posting a sonnet from my first chapbook Counterpane. 

For my poetry-phobic followers, a sonnet is a 14-line poem, invented during the Renaissance by an Italian poet named Petrarch, who evidently enjoyed playing with people’s heads – even his own.  Not only does a sonnet have to be 14 lines, but it has a required rhyme scheme – either abbaabbacdcdcd (Petrarchian) or ababcdcdefefgg (Shakesperian). 

To top it all off each line can only have 10 syllables and those syllables have to be emphasized alternately – it’s called iambic pentameter.  IP is actually rather scary because once you get the hang of writing in that rhythm you discover that you are thinking in that rhythm as well – and it’s hard to turn off. 

I’ll have some questions for you at the end of the poem, but for now figure out if this in a Petrarchian (also called Italian) or a Shakespearian (also called Elizabethan) sonnet.  Enjoy.

Summer Sonnet                  D Chadwell

Each summer I am given perfect plums
Which grow without my love or watered care
Yet fill with cool moist sweetness, bees’ soft hums
That haze through August’s heated golden air.

I can no longer number all that flows
Full though my world in wild prolific flight.
My providential cup now overflows
With good work, love, and loveliness, and light.

But plums are watered down through dismal days
That fall like rain but feel more like regret,
Like sorrow, sadness. hurt and hollow praise
That drown my days and worry at me …yet

When heat and sun are high and summer comes,
I know I will be granted perfect plums.

 Response Questions    :-)  (I can't help it -- sorry.)

What – or who -- is gracing your summer? 
What  dismal days brought you  -- or are bringing you to your plums? 
Why do we love summer so much? 
a)     Are we trained to do so by eons of public schooling?
b)    Is it just a sun thing and purely physical?
c)     Or is it spiritual – a realization of life?
d)    Who cares?

Yes – it’s a Shakespearian sonnet.  Good job.   If you’re interested in trying to write one check the right hand column for sonnet tips.  Try it; it’s fun.  Much like those black and white plastic number puzzles we used to play with.  Your have to play with word order a lot.

Tirade II

We’ve  Been  Caught  in a Compromising  Position

I’ve come to hate the word “compromise” even though being willing to “compromise” is touted as one of the world’s great virtues.  Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines the word as the act of  “com[ing] to agreement by mutual concession.” That sounds harmless, generally benevolent, and in most interpersonal situations it’s a necessity in maintaining relationships:

You want to paint the living room blue, your spouse wants it yellow, so you paint it green.  That’s benign compromise  -- win/win.  The room gets painted, you each get a little of what you wanted, and you can get on to the next disagreement.

Your kids want pepperoni, you want chicken and artichoke, so you order a half- and-half pizza.  No problem. 

Heck, I’m schizoid enough I’ve even negotiated with myself. Yes you can have the chocolate chips, but you will have to walk 2 miles.

Lately, however, I’ve been sickened by the malignant compromise going on in Washington.  You see, compromise is only productive in non-moral situations. Compromise is pragmatic; it is not virtuous.  It won’t work to say to the jihadists –You want to kill all the Jews?  Let’s compromise and say you’ll only kill the ones on the West Bank.

That’s not compromise; that’s moral outrage -- to say nothing of naïve stupidity. 

Congress is currently busy batting such compromises back and forth like dead birds. None can work because
a)    paying one’s debts and obligations is a moral mandate; as is spending no more than you earn, as is not selling one’s soul, personally or nationally -- and
b)    b) this is not just a two-sided issue (in spite of the deceptive simplicity of the two-party system): it is a tangle of Gordian proportions.  A little give and take isn’t going to straighten anything out.

Compromise requires a clear, uncluttered middle ground, and one which is only reachable if neither side is morally  -- may I say it? – compromised.  On the left we have the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul mentality, the something-for-nothing mythology.  On the right is the speak-softly-and-carry-no-stick attitude that is every bit as responsible for our current plight. Our soaring debt isn’t about helping people, or stimulating the economy: it’s about buying power.  As a free people we shouldn’t be willing to compromise on that.

Here we have both parties neither of whom (with the exception of the freshman Republicans) can conceive of winning an election without purchasing votes -- not  even the much-maligned rich can provide the money for that to continue. The Chinese are losing their loan enthusiasm.  Our ponzi schemes are going weak in the knees.  Businesses are gagging on regulations and taxes, which they can’t or won’t pay. Most of these problems are the result of that same compromising I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you’ll-scratch-mine mentality that Washington is currently using in an attempt to solve the problem it created. 

I didn’t mean to rant, but here’s the problem:  if a compromise is reached that ignores the moral (and Constitutional) issues at the heart of the problem, no good will come of it.  You see, things are immoral, not because God is a fuss-budget, but because immoral activities have negative results.  This debt problem is no exception.  Eric Sevareid once said, “The chief cause of problems is solutions.”

We’ve been caught in a compromising position.  Buckle your seat belts.  

Check this out -- I just ran across it:,1518,777705,00.html