Iamb What Iamb, and That’s All What Iamb!

Thursday, May 19th, ©2011 Marcus Brooks

For the poet is an airy thing, a winged and a holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he is… out of his senses.  —Socrates

Once upon a time I spent a weekend with a Complete Shakespeare, looking for a quote. The particular quote is unimportant, but here it is: “A was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again” (Hamlet, 1, 2). I had no e-text to search, so I read a lot of iambic pentameter that weekend.

This occurred during a period in my life of intense romantic angst. I also recall that Sting had an album out quoting Shakespearean sonnets, among other things. I suppose it was inevitable that I should write a few sonnets of my own.

My very first sonnet was a sort of response to this one by Shakespeare:

Since I left you mine eye is in my mind,
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out;

For it no form delivers to the heart
Of bird, of flower, or shape which it doth latch.
Of his quick objects hath the mind no part,
Nor his own vision holds what it doth catch;

For if it see the rud’st or gentlest sight,
The most sweet favour or deformèd’st creature,
The mountain or the sea, the day or night,
The crow or dove, it shapes them with your feature.

Incapable of more, replete with you,
My most true mind thus makes mine eye untrue.

—William Shakespeare #113

My variation on that theme went like this:

Though grander mind than William’s never was,
That graced the varied language of this Earth,
I see my love not always, as he does,
So his grand words ill voice my lack of mirth.

‘Tis true, I recognize in every vision,
Some part or parcel of thy lovely being;
But eye’s weak spark deserves my mind’s derision,
For everything, but you, is just a thing.

Had William e’er espied thy wholesome beauty,
Then to a goddess turned his curious mind,
Had she no faults, not one, t’would be his duty
To call her Imperfection, lacking thine.

So ‘tis. Tis not eye’s falsehood vexes me;
‘Tis Truth, that I gaze e’er on aught but thee.

—Marcus Brooks  #1

Yes, it’s lame. By way of explanation, my record of this sonnet is annotated thus: “May 9, 1990. Erica.” I think I’ll leave it at that for now!

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