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Sonnet: Dolce stil novo -- Gavin Ewart

Thanks to Vikram Doctor for suggesting Gavin Ewart (whom I hadn't even heard of
(Poem #263) Sonnet: Dolce stil novo
That woman who to me seems most a woman
I do not compare to angels --- or digress on schismatic Popes ---
or exalt above the terrestrial or consider a madonna.
Nor do I search in others for her lineaments,
or wish for Death to free me from desire,
or consider Love an archer; or see her as a Daphne,
fleeing the embraces of Apollo, transformed into a laurel.
I am not lost in the amorous wood of Virgil.

But although I do not rhyme or use the soft Italian,
my love is a strong love, and for a certain person.
Human beings are human; I can see a man might envy
her bath water as it envelops her completely.
That's what my love would like to do; and Petrarch
can take a running jump at himself --- or (perhaps?) agree.
-- Gavin Ewart
A straightforward sonnet, more than mildly reminiscent of Shakespeare's 'My
Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun ' [1]. Nothing more to say, so I'll say


[1] Sonnet 130, poem #44


Ewart, Gavin Buchanan (1916-1996):  Ewart first published poems at the age of 17
in Geoffrey Grigson's New verse of 1933. After graduating at Christ's College,
Cambridge, he served in the Royal Artillery from 1940 to 1946, and worked for
the British Council from 1946 to 1952, and then as a copywriter in advertising
until 1971, when he became a full-time freelance writer. He became a Fellow of
the Royal Society of Literature in 1981. His works include Be my guest (1975),
Or where a young penguin lies screaming (1978),  All my little ones(1978), The
first eleven (1977) and No fool like an old fool (1976).

[Minstrels Links]

My favourite sonnet is Keats' unforgettable 'On First Looking Into Chapman's
Homer', which you can read at poem #12

A poem similar in its matter-of-factness and insight is Edwin Morgan's 'The
Unspoken', which can be found at poem #147

And as in so many other things, Shakespeare was there first and did it best with
Sonnet 130, 'My Mistress' Eyes', at poem #44

[Random Thought]

Is it just me or is there a hint of Blake in the juxtaposition of 'lineaments'
with 'desire'?

29 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Christopher ratcliffe said...

Like e.e. cummings Ewart is a great and underestimated love poet - and he is funny. A few other poems you might like include "Love Song" and "The lover writes a heterosexual lyric". ("The collected Ewart, 1933 - 1980 - Hutchinson ISBN 0 09 141001 0)

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