Literary Shelf

Poetry: Not Everyone's Cup of Tea - 1

Poetry is a literary form that employs language to elicit intense sensory experiences, communicate complicated ideas, and elicit emotional reactions through the use of skillfully chosen words, cadence, and images. It is frequently distinguished by using similes, analogies, and other symbolic languages, as well as literary techniques like alliteration, rhyme, and meter.

Poetry is what a poet does. A lyricist creates poetry. Since only humans can write poetry, a poet must possess a certain set of personal qualities. This is because poetry is fundamentally an art form that seeks to explore and communicate human experiences, feelings, and viewpoints. Poets use language in an aesthetically appealing and cognitively stimulating manner to convey their thoughts, emotions, and insights. Poets are able to elicit strong emotions from their audience and communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that is both unique and enduring through the use of skillfully selected words.

Since poets originate from different origins and have different styles and voices, there is no single collection of traits that can be used to describe them. However, the following characteristics are shared by many poets:

Poets have a rich and vivid imagination, and are able to create new worlds and experiences through their words. They are often able to see beyond the surface level of things and find deeper meaning in everyday life.

Poets frequently have a keen awareness of their feelings and environment. They are able to convey the subtleties of language and the surrounding environment in their work because they are attuned to these details.

Poets are keen observers of the world around them, paying close attention to the details others may overlook. They often use these observations to create vivid and compelling imagery in their writing.

Poets possess a unique creativity that allows them to see things in new and innovative ways. They are able to use language to convey complex emotions and ideas and to express themselves in ways that are fresh and original.

Emotional depth:
Poets often explore complex and intense emotions in their work, delving into the depths of human experience in ways that can be both challenging and rewarding.

Writing poetry can be a slow and deliberate process, requiring a great deal of patience and persistence. Poets often revise and refine their work over time, seeking to capture the essence of their ideas in the most effective way possible.

Love of language:
Poets have a deep and abiding love of language, and are often fascinated by the nuances of words and their meanings. They are able to use language in powerful and evocative ways, creating images and emotions that resonate with their readers.

Poetry can take many forms, including sonnets, haikus, ballads, free verse, and more. Each form has its own unique structure and characteristics, but all poetry shares a commitment to the art of language and a deep respect for the power of words. While poetry has been a part of the evolution of human culture for thousands of years, it remains a vital and vibrant art form that continues to fascinate and inspire us even in modern days of today.

Let us start with what is meant by Sonnets.

The Italian term "sonetto," which itself comes from "suono" (meaning "a sound"), is the source of the English word "sonnet." The four main kinds of sonnets are as follows:

(1) Petrarchan, (2) Shakespearean, (3) Spenserian, and (4) Miltonic.

Francesco Petrarch, an Italian romantic poet active in the fifteenth century, is the subject of the Petrarchan Sonnet. He was an Italian and scholar who lived during the 14th century and is considered one of the greatest poets in Italian literature. He is particularly known for his contributions to the development of the Italian sonnet, including the Petrarchan sonnet, which is named after him.

The literary style that carries his name was not created by Petrarch. Giacomo da Lentini, a poet who wrote in the literary Sicilian vernacular in the thirteenth century, is generally recognised as the sonnet's inventor. Each of the 14 lines is broken up into an octave and a sestet. The octave has an ABBA ABBA rhythm pattern. The sestet uses either the CDC CDC rhyme scheme, which is less prevalent, or the CDE CDE rhyme scheme.

Here is a Sonetto 292 in Italian by  Francesco Petrarca.

Voi ch'ascoltate in rime sparse il suono di quei sospiri ond'io nudriva 'l core
in sul mio primo giovenile errore
quand'era in parte altr'uom da quel ch'i' sono,

del vario stile in ch'io piango et ragiono
fra le vane speranze e 'l van dolore,
ove sia chi per prova intenda amore,
spero trovar pietà, nonché perdono.

Ma ben veggio or sí come al popol tutto
favola fui gran tempo, onde sovente
di me medesmo meco mi vergogno;

et del mio vaneggiar vergogna è 'l frutto,
e 'l pentersi, e 'l conoscer chiaramente
che quanto piace al mondo è breve sogno.

Translated loosely in English, the above sonnet would read as below:

You who hear the sound of scattered rhymes
Of those sighs with which I fed my heart
In my youth's first, mistaken part,
When I was partly someone other than I am,
Amid the varied style in which I weep and reason
Between vain hopes and vain sorrows,
Wherever there may be someone who,
Through experience, understands love,
I hope to find pity, as well as forgiveness.
But I now see clearly how to everyone I was a fable for a long time,
Wherefore I often feel shame about myself with myself;
And the fruit of my vain imaginings is shame,
And repentance, and clear awareness
That everything the world finds pleasing is a brief dream.

To whom is Shakespeare unknown?  Around the time of the Elizabethan era in England, the Italian sonnet shape was altered to become a Shakespearean sonnet. The term "Elizabethan sonnets" or "English sonnets" is commonly used to describe these 14-line sonnets, which are divided into three quatrains and a couplet. Iambic pentameter, with lines of ten syllables, is frequently used. Shakespearean sonnets follow the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. Here is Sonnet 13 as an illustration of the same.

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hair be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses, damasked red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes there is more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belies with false compare.

A Shakespearean sonnet is a variant on the Spenserian sonnet, which has a more difficult verse pattern: ABCDEF GGGGH EE. Shakespeare's time was marked by the English poet Edmund Spenser, who offered his own take on the famous sonnet form of the day. Shakespeare and most of his peers structured their 14-line sonnet series using the rhyme scheme:CDCD EFEF GG ABAB. The rhyme system ABAB BCBC CDCD EE used by Spenser required that rhymes introduced in one quatrain guide rhymes in consecutive quatrains. Consider Spenser's sonnet 75, written in 1595 titled "Amoretti," to see how he put this into action:

One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Again I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tide, and made my pains his prey.
"Vain man," said she, "that dost in vain assay,
A mortal thing so to immortalize;
For I myself shall like to this decay,
And eke my name be wiped out likewise."
"Not so," (quod I) "let baser things devise
To die in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens write your glorious name:
Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew."

“Amoretti” confronts the transient nature of life and love. All things pass away like the words etched in the sand. However, the primary idea is that love may last forever in the hearts and memories of its participants

John Milton ( 1608-1674), an English poet is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost,  composed in blank verse in 1667, consisting of more than ten chapters. Paradise Lost was produced during a period of great political and theological turmoil. It discussed the decline of man, including Satan's seduction of Adam and Eve and God's ejection of them from Eden's Garden. The sonnet structure of Shakespeare  was continued by John Milton, who lived for the final eight years of Shakespeare's existence. Instead of focusing on themes related to the external world, "Miltonic" sonnets frequently investigated an internal battle or conflict. Although they occasionally went beyond the established guidelines for rhyme or duration, Milton also exhibited a preference for the Petrarchan form, as seen in his most well-known sonnet, "When I Consider How My Light is Spent."

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.

The rhythm style is Shakespearean.  The theme of this sonnet number 19 is the poet’s acceptance of his blindness and his faith in God’s plan for him. Milton had become blind at the age of 44.

Continued to Next Page 


More by :  Dr. Satish Bendigiri

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Views: 545      Comments: 4

Comment Thank you so much, Mome ji for your gracious appreciation. Stay tuned for next installment.

03-Apr-2023 08:09 AM

Comment Woww what an intensive explanation…fantastic read !!

02-Apr-2023 21:39 PM

Comment Thank you so much Hemaji, for your appreciation.

02-Apr-2023 03:37 AM

Comment Excellent...thank you for sharing such insights

Hema Ravi
01-Apr-2023 22:55 PM

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