Some of you know that I have very recently started to attend a Creative Writing class. Last week's homework was to write a sonnet. A proper, Shakespearean sonnet.' 4-4-4-2'. abab, cdcd, efef, gg.
So, "Go away and write a sonnet", she said.
She gave us exactly twenty minutes' worth of explanation, a few pointers where to find examples and one of her own, which she admitted, was not perfect. One line was not a perfect pentameter!
I ask you! How could she!
Ever since I left class last week I have been in a tremendous tizzy. Firstly, I lacked an idea. Write a sonnet about what? Love, a philosophical question, a special object ? You have to start with an idea for a subject, otherwise you're stuck from the off.
I tried roses, love and philosophy not growing so well on my compost. I got as far as a first line for the first quatrain. Then I tried out various techniques, like a whole lot of words that rhyme with roses or rosebushes, petal, scent and blushing brides, mildew, mulch and manure.
No mileage in that. I can grow roses, but not their poetic equivalent.
I read reams of sonnets. The more I read the more I knew I could never write one.
I asked Jinksy for help - you know the annoying blogger whose blog is riddled with poems, all her own. She sent me one of hers, a perfect example of the art, telling me how easy it is. I can tell you I was sorely tempted to pinch it and pass it off as my own.
I could always feign illness and miss the class, hoping that teacher would have moved on to a nice, easy, short story, or maybe the definitive novel of the 21st century by the next lesson. I might have stood a chance with them.
It was that clever blighter, good old Stephen Fry, national treasure and avuncular polymath, and The Ode Less Travelled, who unlocked the poet within and helped me to give birth to my very own first sonnet. I imagined his fruity tones reading the chapter on sonnets and setting me an exercise, very kindly supplying the subject too. Apathy.
And would you believe, it worked. It is a dreadfully bad sonnet, a lot of rubbish, actually, (no, you do not get to say it isn't), but although it is definitely rubbish, it is rubbish in sonnet form.
To choose our rulers we have won the right,
To stand up and be counted, one by one,
To fight against oppression with our might,
And brothers all, we did what must be done.
In modern times, the voters do not care
To vote, electoral apathy wins,
We moan and rail against our rulers’ fare
But we do not use the polls, for our sins.
I too am one of those who do not use
The polls, my right was taken from me when
I chose to live among an alien muse,
Her law being mightier than my pen.
But what’s the point, why should we vote, (for shame!)
Nothing would change, rulers are all the same.