Poetry Break: "Christmas Ringing '93"
On Christmas Eve of 1993, I proposed to Sun-Ae in Rome in a fine Italian restaurant just down the street from the Church of Santa Maria Maggiori, which I mentioned in a post over a year ago.
At the time, our conversations were usually in German, for that was the language in which we had met, so my report of over a year ago and my poem below do not map perfectly onto one another. You can also blame my poor memory ... maybe that long "senior moment" that I learned about just two days ago.
At any rate, here it is, my Christmas sonnet, written last Friday as a gift for my wife in our current penurious times because she told me, "Write me a poem for a Christmas present this year":
Christmas Ringing '93I've never written a sonnet before, and I won't claim that this is a great one, but it tries to do some things that a sonnet is supposed to do. Mine is an Italian -- or Petrarchan -- sonnet composed of two four-line stanzas forming an octave (rhyme scheme abba abba) and two three-line stanzas forming a sestet (rhyme scheme cde cde). Although I follow the Italian rhyme scheme, I keep roughly to the English rhythm of iambic pentameter.
Recall that time in Rome when you said, "Oh!
It's lovely," but just held it in your hand
As though to keep it there a wedding banned,
And said: "I keep the ring if I say, 'No'?"
At which, I smiled, but it was I said, "No.
You want the ring, it brings a wedding band."
And then, I half expected you to hand
It back into my hand. And I'd say, "Oh."
That was the wakeful moment on which turned
The fateful twining, or untwining, of
Our love. You said, "Okay," and I said, "Yes?"
And you said, "Yes," and finally thus turned
Away not me but the untwining of
Our love. For nonetheless, you did say, "Yes."
Typically, a sonnet states a proposition in its octave, then responds to that proposition in its sestet. The ninth line, which is therefore the first line of the sestet, is called the "volta" -- or "turn" -- because it introduces the moment of a turning (often a sharp turning) from proposition to response.
My poem may seem simple because I've not only used the rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde, I've even kept the same words (except for the wordplay "banned" and "band"). I could have done this differently, but I wanted to use the same words because I was presenting a moment in which two people either entwine themselves further together or completely untwine themselves from one another as the same words either devolve into different meanings or evolve into, more or less, the same meaning.
Thus do our two lives together form a single poem...