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An essay towards the real character of benevolent language - the period of cosmography
An essay towards the real character of benevolent language
How sweet the sound of things said with impunity.
Of conscience soothing words spoken in manners
that can not threaten mankind’s sacred unity,
expressions pleasing bearers of all banners.

O wondrous dream of humanism, language,
that turns chromatic attributes geographic,
deficiency and lacking into challenge;
Bans ugliness explicit from its traffic.

A bastion tongue against injustice oral,
its every phrase concerned commiseration,
that mutes the voice of every thought immoral,
and renders every blow of fate occasion.

But dragons can’t be tamed by mere respect,
nor Truth be made politically correct
5 comments or Leave a comment
From: tomsdisch Date: March 31st, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


Well, the meter usually passes muster,, but sometimes it takes squeezing. The diction is dicier. Too many inversions for a contemporary American taste. "every thought immoral" is rhyme-forced. And often the rhymes are not really rhymes. Which is a matter of taste these days, but my taste says in a strict form like the sonnet compassion and occasion don't rhyme. Anyhow these things go beyond the compass of your question. But thanks for the compliment of asking me.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 31st, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Meter

It is me who has to thank you for taking a look and giving an answer. I do not usually come across poets laureate who make posts I can shamelessly take advantage of to ask them to take a look at my texts. I thank you also for going beyond the matter of meter, I do read a lot in English but I don't speak it too often, which makes me prone to erred pronunciation. I corrected the rhyme issue by substituting "a pylon of compassion" with "concerned commiseration". I share your opinion that a sonnet should be written by the rules, and consider myself very fortunate that you pointed out this major blunder. I believe that I should only write when I have something to say, and adding difficulty by choosing a strict form helps me to stick to this rule. At the same time it forces me to improve my command of language.
From: tomsdisch Date: March 31st, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Meter

Anselmo The sonnet is like certain difficult steps in ballet. You never stop practising them. And you work at it for years befopre you get one just right. Usually. Charles Platt, who is no kind of poet at all, nevertheless did a very good sonnet first time at bat. Before that he had done a whole bunch of collaborative sonnets with Marilyn Hacker. They're in the pamphlet the three of did in 1970 or so. It took me about a dozen years to get the knack. I'm not bilingual enough in any other language to know if the ability transfers to a second language. To a degree it must. And I don't know Spanish lyric poetry at all. Did Spanish poets of this century foresake strict forms? Anyhow, kudos for taking the plunge in English.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: April 2nd, 2007 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Meter

I see I must take your advice and practice very much; Although it brings a contradiction to my conviction of writing only what I deem worth saying. I personally believe that the ability to write good poetry transfers to any language because what makes a poet good is his ability to elicit in the reader a response that is somehow the mirror image of what drove him to write the poem. Some do it by wit, some by awing command of technique, by musicality, by effect etc. These are all methods that can be learned by anyone with some ability, but only the true poets use them to any avail.
Regarding the ability to write sonnets I think it would surprise even someone as experienced as you are, how big the difference is. If you leave out semantics, it is quite possible to have a simple program write sonnets in Spanish. This is so because in written Spanish, the stresses are fully determined by the orthography, the rules of metric specify a few positions which have to be stressed, the syllable count is ruled by syntax alone, and the rhyming can be discerned in it too. To do the same in English you would have to also take into account the pronunciation of each word for itself and within the context, apart from the more complex metric rules stemming from the use of feet as the basic building blocks of verse.
I am not really informed enough to state this with too much certainty, but as far as I can say, Spanish speaking poets did forsake the stricter traditional rules in the twentieth century. I do recall that Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz deplores in his book on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, that the poets of his time did so, therefore I assume my impression is not too wrong. A notable exception is Borges, who wrote many sonnets and structured them after the English fashion in terms of the rhyming patterns. The modernist Rubén Darío, part of whose work belongs to the twentieth century too, also wrote sonnets in a special manner, using verses longer than the usual hendecasyllable. Enough now, as I am starting again to sound as if I knew what I am talking about, which is really only very superficially the case.
Thanks for the kudos, I do feel very privileged to have had you and John Crowley make any remarks at all. I hope you see my efforts as aspirations and not as vane pretensions of achievement, I will rather hear a word of earnest criticism than be totally ignored for being a complete bore.
anselmo_b From: anselmo_b Date: March 31st, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC) (Link)


The tenth verse read "its every phrase a pylon of compassion" until tomsdisch pointed out to me that it didn't rhyme with the twelfth. Therefore his remark is fully appropriate although it now appears to be inconsistent.
5 comments or Leave a comment