22 September 2008

Very Occasional Verse

People sometimes ask whether I write poetry, since I study it and write about it. My usual answers? "No, not really" or "not in ages"... but then again, this week I wrote a sonnet. In about 15 minutes.

M. is having the students in his intro class write sonnets; on Wednesday he sent me an e-mail mentioning this assignment in passing...which, for some reason, prompted me to respond in sonnet form. And yeah, the result is about as good as that investment of time suggests...but it was fun to bash out and seems to have amused its recipient.

More worthwhile, in my book, are the sonnets that M wrote as "the first pair of poems in a notional sonnet sequence: 'Grammaretti.'" Having seen his students fall into various "errors in the use of antiquated diction ('thou knoweth,' 'he givest' and the like)," he offers some versified guidance.
He also notes:
Please excuse the fact that the sonnets are not, in fact, Spenserian sonnets, despite the title. And in the second sonnet, verb endings unattached to verbs should be spelled out (thus "ess tee" for -st, "tee aitch" for -th).

So I present them here for your edification and/or entertainment:


Consider now the pronouns thou and thee,
referring both to but a single "you."
Use thou for vocatives, apostrophe,
and subjects of your sentences, in few.
Use thee for objects of a preposition,
Direct objects and indirect as well.
To illustrate: "O thou! Thou hast thy mission.
To thee, 'tis thine to show thee whom to tell."
If plural "you" is meant, the word is ye
for subjects, while for objects you will do.
Together, case and number readily
distinguish "Have at thee!" from "Have at you!"
I've given thee the rules for thee and thou;
Thou knowest, then, how best to use them now.

A rule of thumb. "Thou" verbs can thus be classed:
"Thou" takes an ending ending in a -t:
Thou shalt, thou wilt, thou canst, thou mayst, thou hast
—but note how -s- can keep -t company!
Indeed, thou wilt see -st oftenmost,
sometimes preceded by the letter -e-,
as in thou knowest; briefer said, thou know'st
(observe the meter's friend, apostrophe!)
The trick is not to use the -th endings,
for plurals and third-person verbs use those.
*Thou goeth and *he walk'st are faulty blendings,
as bad as, say, *I walketh or *you goes.
'Tis second-person -t for two (thou, thee),
third-person with -th for three (he, she).

And mine? OK:

Had I but time to carve from out my day,
I'd more than these short lines to you endite;
Yet back into the workweek's busy fray
Must I soon plunge, with other goals in sight.
Think me not cruel that I thee thus requite,
Quite miserly in present paltry pay;
Yet with more ample hand extend I might
Gifts of more worth when office hours give way.
Yet while I may, with words, though few and poor,
Some tender of the tender offer meant
Intend I here to send you from my store
Though meager more than hoped munificent--
More hoped for, more in hope to thee I'll give
Always and all ways, while we both shall live.

As a bonus blast-from-the-past, here's one that I wrote back in 7th grade...about the love triangle in my once-and-future beloved space-opera Japanimation TV show, Robotech. (Yes, my online moniker "Miriya" comes from this show--but my favorite green-haired alien warrior woman makes no appearance in the poem. Perhaps if I take up a Macross Saga sonnet sequence, though...)

Robotech Romance
(Sonnet written for 7th grade English in 1986. My poor teacher put up with my writing about Robotech for every 'free writing' journal assignment, so there's an 'Oh, no!!!' next to the title--but also an 'Excellent,' so she must have been indulgent.)

Poor Lisa stands, eyes glazed, oblivious
To all but that one man whom she adores
Who loves her not, but childish, obnoxious
Minmay, a star for whom the crowd clamors.
A golden-voiced, glitt'ring jewel is she,
"With her how can any other compare?",
Laments Lisa, in whom Rick cannot see
Inner beauty, intelligence, and care.
She follows him as flowers follow sun
Or Clytie, her Apollo caring not--
For shallow, immature Minmay's the one
Rick likes, and Lisa is quickly forgot.
But just rewards do come at last, my friend,
For Lisa wins Rick over, in the end.

P.S. October 13, 12:32 a.m.: I've been catching up on a friend's blogposts and happen to click on a link to one of his poems, published in 2003 (see here) -- a sonnet, as you'll see:

The world creates itself again anew
With words Bereyshis boro eloyhim.
We know that last thing made is first thought through
And so I think of us, and it, and Him.
If world's God's supposition which depends
On drafts innumerable of human deed
Then every proofreader would cap his pen
And curse the day he ever learned to read.
As manna's flavor tastes of what-you-want,
The world is colored with the paint we mix.
As word politely bows before the count
World's smallness is again divinely fixed
In ark, where it creates itself anew
As protean fecundity of twos.

01 September 2008

Campaign 100,000 BC

Last night we watched the first-ever Doctor Who episodes, from 1963: the story-arc composed of "An Unearthly Child," "The Cave of Skulls," "The Forest of Fear," and "The Firemaker" (Actually, we watched "An Unearthly Child" twice, not realizing that the first "episode" on the disc was the unscreened pilot, before they re-filmed it at the creator's insistence.)

Unfortunately, the rhetorical tactics Za and Kal use as they struggle for the position of chief in their prehistoric tribe sound all too familiar. Negative campaigning is nothing new:

KAL: It is cold.....the tiger comes to our caves again at night.....Za will give you to the tiger!!! Za will give you to the cold!

Za: Wrong on fire. Wrong for the tribe.

ZA: You all heard him say that there would be fire. There is no fire! Za does not lie! He does not say, "I will do this thing," and then not do it! He does not say, "I will make you warm," and then leave you to the dark! He does not say, "I will frighten away the tiger with fire," and then let him come to you in the dark! Do you want a liar for your chief?

Kal: No fire. No leadership.
Vote Za!

(Script excerpts from "The Cave of Skulls" found here.)