Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

0244 Trying To Write A Sonnet - Poem by Michael Shepherd

It's a bit like a trip in a hot air balloon -
the hot air of thousands of years of
poets poetizing; all trying to float a little higher than the everyday,
just a little lower than the angels -
whoops, there's four lines gone already...

so, the first four lines or so say
where you're taking this trip from, hoping
to arrive somewhere quite new and unexpected
after fourteen lines, otherwise
why take the trip at all?

so, fire up the burner of ambition, whatever,
and we're into the second four lines now;
floating in an easy, silent, gently breeze-blown world,
a poet's paradise,
where the mind is stilled, the beauty of the landscape
almost beyond words (ha!) : all perspectives on the world
altered; but do we know now where we're heading?
It's a cool way of experiencing altered state
without illegal substances. Take out the notebook,
try to describe it, just in case
someone reads it; at least it might
encourage them to take the trip themself.

And now we're into the last six lines
which, the pundits say, should introduce
some new insight, some viewpoint on the world;
you've had your chance; has the trip been worthwhile?
the balloon's gone higher, the landscape stretches out,
greener than a politician's promise...
Floating above the green fields, the concrete and the smog,
the unexpected words from the ground heard crystal clear -
have new thoughts, new visions, come, in this poet's paradise?

And now so soon, the final couplet - which the pundits of today
condemn as the valueless whistling in the dark,
the false claim to cultural certainties -
so beware: take all your humility in hand like
a doffed Elizabethan cap: will that final couplet be
the clunk-click of the safety belt's banality? The
front-door clack of Alexander Pope's front door,
before the scrape of sharpened pen, the mellow smell
of candlelight on paper that will ring the world
like thought-fired, savage Georgian hot-air balloon?
Or the clang of oven door in Belsen, Dachau, Buchenwald?

For the poet, just fourteen lines: heaven and earth,
truth and lies, life and death, Icarus 's fate,
all these, for his few hours, depend upon it;
but I digress; I should have writ a sonnet..

Comments about 0244 Trying To Write A Sonnet by Michael Shepherd

  • (8/7/2005 12:43:00 PM)

    What fun! (As though you couldn't write a sonnet!) I loved the final couplet...now all you have to do is write the first twelve lines.


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 7, 2005

Poem Edited: Friday, July 14, 2006

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