Thursday, January 08, 2009

Student Sonnet Assignment: "From Stella in 2009"

(Image from Wikipedia)

I'm still busy teaching writing course for Ewha's 'Brain Korea 21' -- which sounds better as "BK 21" -- so I've very little time for blogging, but I can post yesterday's student effort at writing. The assignment was to write a sonnet together as a class . . . without me being present. I therefore left my students alone after 2:30 and went home to rest -- a much needed respite for me, apparently, for I went to bed yesterday at 4:00 in the afternoon and got up at 4:00 this morning. The clock now says 5:00, and I've been looking at what my students wrote and making changes. I'll first post what my students composed as a 'sonnet', which was written with Sir Philip Sydney's sonnet series, Astrophil and Stella, in mind:
From Stella in 2009
Alas, the envelope you sent was sealed in blood
I cut it open with my fingernail painted in black,
Your letter was tattered, and drawn on it was a tacky bud
I smelled your tears on the page while gnawing my snack.

My hand of alabaster you admired has left a greasy mark
On the letter you likened my hair to the sun's ray
The lids of my "starlike eyes" grew heavy as I read your remark,
I could only yawn with lips you compared to the rose of May.

Is the blood on the envelope a drop from your heart that broke?
The stain of tears, is it spattered from the flood you cried?
The blazon you copied, a poet long dead also spoke,
Between the fine phrases I cannot hear your love voiced.

No more, I pray, tell the lines adieu
I simply want to hear and say: I love you.
This is a valiant effort, and rather clever, but it needed a bit of fine-tuning to get the meter correct, so here it is with my metrical alterations:
From Stella in 2009
The envelope you sent was sealed in blood,
But opened with my nail all painted black.
Your letter tattered, drawn with tacky bud,
Smelled of your tears as I gnawed on my snack.

My 'alabaster' hand left greasy marks
Where likened you my hair to 'sunshine ray'.
My 'starlike eyes' drooped heavy at remarks:
I merely yawned with lips like 'rose of May'.

That blood? Spilt dropping from your heart that broke?
Those tear stains spattered from the flood you cried?
A long-dead poet once that blazon spoke,
But such fine phrase your love does not confide.

No more, I pray, say all these lines adieu!
I need hear only, and say: "I love you."
There it is. It might not win any contests, but it works well enough for the assignment.

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At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why all the scare quotes in the second stanza? I find them extremely jarring. Perhaps not as jarring as some of the metaphors and similes, but it seems like an easily remedied problem.

At 4:02 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The speaker is quoting the figures of speech ironically, ridiculing them.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:07 AM, Blogger Kate Marie said...


Welcome back!

At 5:50 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

I hope you're able to wrest an apology from the Google/Blogger beast for this blog's sudden and unjustified disappearance.

Good to see that you're back.


At 7:28 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

KM and Kevin, thanks. It's good to be back. I was beginning to despair, but Malcolm came through by using his contacts in the business world.

Google has expressed an apology privately, Kevin, but more importantly, I'm back.

I suppose that my first post should be one of explanation to my readers, but I need to recover my wits first.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Jeffery, it's good to have you back in my blog-world. I have been having withdrawal tremors with no morning or evening blog to brighten my day.
You are extremely talented, and a wit....even though an unnamed source said I was half right about that. Have you half recovered your wits? If so, please get back to blogging.
Your favorite? uncle,


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