The sonnets have occupied my writing mind a lot over the last few years and some of them can be viewed on this site. I’ve raised over £5,000 for causes such as the Margaret School in Uganda, Water Aid and the ‘Tres Cosas’ campaign for equal rights for ancillary workers at London University. In 2017 I raised £1,700 for the Charter for Woods, under the auspices of the Woodland Trust. These sonnets can now be viewed in a PDF here: Charter for Woods, Trees and People – sonnets. This year I’m having a rest, though I have written one about ‘Harrison’s Garden’.
Here’s a very small selection which will, I hope, give an idea of the range of possibilities the sonnet offers.
My teacher says a sonnet is a poem
Of fourteen lines. You have to make it rhyme
In certain ways, she said. Most of the time
It goes A B B A and when you come
To the next 4 lines it’s C D D C.
That makes up eight: they call it an octet.
Do four more and end with a nice couplet
(That’s two that rhyme together.) It’s easy!
Shakespeare wrote a lot of them. He was good
At it, must’ve had the rhythm in his head
I reckon. ‘Lines have ten beats,’ Miss said,
‘But nine or eleven varies it. Should
You want to have a go, I recommend
A pencil or computer, not a pen!’
I had a go – but found the fourteen lines
Too few. Just add two more and that’s…just… fine!
Written for a friend’s mother’s birthday
What is more powerful than a homely smell
Taking you back to moments from the past?
And this aroma’s one that lasts and lasts:
Mum’s cakes just from the oven – all is well.
Laid out upon the kitchen bench, to share,
There might be flapjacks on the cooling tray
Or this might be a chocolate chip bun day,
But no – Victoria sponge! The scent is in the air!
What tales that well-worn Be-ro book could tell;
What marks of careful floury hands it bears,
Corners turned down, a myriad tiny tears
It’s far more potent than a book of spells!
It wasn’t just the chocolate or jam
Or cream, but love you filled them with. Thanks, mum.
A political poem: The Army Invisible
We’re the army invisible. We come
When you’re asleep or half awake to clean
Your rooms and corridors, wipe off obscene
Graffiti, swill away the leavings of some
Celebration we would not be party to
Or sweep away the paper trail of notes
You didn’t notice that you’d lost. Hang coats
Back onto hooks, try to make Room 42
Take on a semblance of the sort of place
Where learning might go on. We’ve learned a lot
About your Higher Education: not
To expect too much of learned faces
Who can find a hundred reasons not to give
The small amounts your army needs to live.
A Modern Pilgrim
In the style of Geoffrey Chaucer
A Bancker there wass and that a worthye man
That since the tyme of bankynge had beganne
Filled full his dayse with toiling by ye screne
And with ye telephone wolde oft be seene
Y-makinge deals with othere banking wights
While keeping certayne thinges well out of sight.
His Porsche he kept well-polishéd and clene
Also his bodye eek well-honed and lene
For in ye jymme he labored whan he coulde
Just as he travailed for his country’s goode:
But though he labored he did nothynge make.
Yet he thoght it wolde be a gross mistayke
If no bonus came in pondes sterlinge
Beyonde his wage and all his other earnynges!