Saturday, July 6, 2013

Two Birthdays in July - The Sonneteers

In researching poets born in July, I happened upon a lucky coincidence: two poets born 600 years apart who have made the sonnet their form of choice.

Francesco Petrarch
Public Domain

The first is Francesco Petrarch, born on 20 July 1304 in the city of Arezzo, Italy. He is credited historically with the development of the sonnet form, having written 317 poems based on the rules established by 13th Century poet, Guittone of Arezzo.

Gli Occhi Di Chi' Io Parlai

Those eyes, 'neath which my passionate rapture rose, 
The arms, hands, feet, the beauty that erewhile 
Could my own soul from its own self beguile, 
And in a separate world of dreams enclose, 
The hair's bright tresses, full of golden glows, 
And the soft lightning of the angelic smile 
That changed this earth to some celestial isle, 
Are now but dust, poor dust, that nothing knows. 
And yet I live! Myself I grieve and scorn, 
Left dark without the light I loved in vain, 
Adrift in tempest on a bark forlorn; 
Dead is the source of all my amorous strain, 
Dry is the channel of my thoughts outworn, 
And my sad harp can sound but notes of pain.
(Translated by Thomas Wentworth Higginson)

The Petrarchan sonnet, at least in its Italian-language form, generally follows a set rhyme scheme, which runs as follows:
a b b a a b b a c d c d c d.
The first eight lines, or octave, do not often deviate from the abba abba pattern, but the last six lines, or sestet, frequently follow a different pattern, such as cde cde, cde ced, or cdc dee. Each line also has the same number of syllables, usually 11 or 7 by Petrarch.  Source

Pablo Neruda
Public Domain

The second poet being featured today has written many sonnets in the Petrarchan form. Pablo Neruda (born 12 July 1904) was a Chilean poet, diplomat, political activist, and communist refugee- to name a few of his incarnations. Throughout his career he integrated private and public concerns, and was known as the people’s poet. During his life Neruda received numerous prestigious awards, including the International Peace Prize in 1950 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He is considered to be among the greatest Latin-American poets of all time.  Source

This link provides additional quotes from Neruda's work.

What I find fascinating about reading Neruda's sonnets (many more can be found HERE) in English, is the absence of a rhyme scheme and loss of the iambic meter, which translators have not been at pains to carry over. What is left is the essence of the poem, the imagery, the words and the structure of octave and sestet, which Neruda further splits up into two quatrains and two tercets. This seems to offer a more modern approach to writing in a form that is 7 centuries old, and in the past, I have attempted to write my English poetry in a 'Nerudan' style. (Example HERE)

Our challenge today (and I apologize if it is not so 'mini') is to write a sonnet, choosing either the classic style of Francesco Petrarch, or in the style of Pablo Neruda, as his poems appear in translation. The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST to allow extra time for the form challenge. 

We stipulate that only poems written for this challenge may be added to the Mr Linky.  Management reserves the right to remove unrelated links, but invites you to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.


Ella said...

I love the poems you shared~
I am partial to Pablo, though!
I have a few lines done, but I need more time to pull it off...
I'll be back
Thanks Kerry!
I loved your poem..having trouble commenting!

Scarlet said...

What a challenge Kerry ~ Will need to complete my verses and polish it some more ~

Have a good weekend everyone ~

Kerry O'Connor said...

Sonnets may not be for everyone but I will be very happy to read any that are inspired by this prompt.

Peggy said...

I also am working on this challenge. Even if I never get one finished enough to post I am thankful to learn what you shared about this form. I think many or most have heard of sonnets but few know what the form is in detail!

Fireblossom said...

Thanks, Kerry, for giving me an "out"! I don't believe I have ever written a sonnet that didn't merit immediate erasure!

Hannah said...

This was fun!! I loved exploring the Pablo link and found a really beautiful one that inspired my title and then the rest sort of tumbled's shaped like a sonnet but I don't know about anything else! ;) Still, great to get to know these poets and form. Thank you, Kerry!

grapeling said...

so far, I have a blank screen which mimics my blank stare. hmm. intriguing, Kerry.

Margaret said...

I hope I successfully wrote a sonnet - and OF COURSE, thought of a horse right off :)

Susan said...

I've been experimenting with sonnets quite often lately, and find that the compression intensifies emotion--so forgive me for being a bit rebellious here and bringing in a rational fear of those intense emotions--tongue in cheek, of course. Happy Birthday, July. Thanks, Kerry!

Kerry O'Connor said...

I love your sonnets, Susan, and this was no exception.

Sini Rachel said...

Amazing to read the sonnets. I can't imagine words soaked ,dripping with so much passion. Still staring at my screen, where to start...definitely gonna try. Thanks Kerry for introducing me to Neruda. Love him.

Marian said...

this is such a lovely prompt, Kerry. i have no chance of responding to it in a timely fashion... but i'll likely write later, later in the week. xo

LaTonya Baldwin said...

Grace, I love the challenge and I did quite a bit of writing and reading this weekend. Can't give this an honest effort today, but you have stirred my love for Neruda's work and so I will be revisiting his work and trying my hand at his style of sonnet.

In the meantime, I'm offer to support those of you who have contributed.

LaTonya Baldwin said...

Ack, Kerry thanks for the prompt. Grace's last post and mention on the brain. :-)

Ella said...

I am going to try again...I had mine in original sonnet form and then got frustrated with the syllable count. So, this is my offering. When my house quiets I might try again!

I liked where I was originally must tweak some more~

Thank you Kerry :D

hedgewitch said...

Kerry what wonderful sonnets you've chosen, and how lucid your explanation. That Neruda poem just took my breath away. I so wish I was well enough to participate, but I am bookmarking the article for future reference. What a great mini-challenge.

Maggie Grace said...

I realize I must pass on anything with abba format. I have no idea what that means and not in a place to figure it out. I so admire those of you who can write such forms of poetry. I've come to be amazed and most appreciative of the sonnet through Björn Rudberg. Will join you again soon.

hedgewitch said...

Much to my amazement, a poem happened to me in the shower. Thanks Kerry, and thanks to all the poets who produced the fine examples I read for this challenger, which apparently operated like lightning on the monster of Dr. Frankenstein.

Susie Clevenger said...

Such a beautiful challenge Kerry. I love Pablo Neruda.

Helen said...

Kerry, my sonnet is written for my grandson .. and speaks to current events in his life. I thoroughly enjoyed writing to the form! Awesome challenge. Walking into the Garden is like spending the day in a college poetry class with lots of assignments. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kerry - you chose such beautiful poems and I am already very partial to sonnets, so I squeezed something in. It is odd - I was thinking of no rhyme and then ended up with a whole bunch of extra rhyme - perhaps because I tried the 11 syllable line, which is not a format I normally use. (I use 11 syllables but typically in an iambic context.) Anyway - there it is. Thanks. k.

Marian said...

linking up late, not sure what the heck i wrote here, but hey.

TCPC said...

Nice Kerry. thanks for sharing this. Its so difficult to break out the standard into your own form! No wonder Pablo Neruda is hailed!