Guest poem sent in by Paul E Collins
(Poem #1920) The Sonnet
Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frown'd, Mindless of its just honours; with this key Shakespeare unlock'd his heart; the melody Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound; A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound; With it Camöens sooth'd an exile's grief; The Sonnet glitter'd a gay myrtle leaf Amid the cypress with which Dante crown'd His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp, It cheer'd mild Spenser, call'd from Faery-land To struggle through dark ways; and when a damp Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew Soul-animating strains -- alas, too few!
Here's Wordsworth's famous defence of the sonnet, followed by a playful but thought-provoking parody by Dickinson: 'Scorn not the sonnet' (Wordsworth) Scorn not the sonnet on the sonnet, critic; It is a bank where poets love to lie And praise each other's ingenuity In finding such a form. The analytic Reader may stigmatise as parasitic The mirror-image of a mystery, The echo of lost voices, find it dry, And intellectually paralytic. Yet 'tis a child of Fancy, light and live, A fragile veil of Nature, scarcely worn (Of Wordsworth's two, of Shakespeare's none, survive); Empty not then the vials of scorn upon it. Nor, since we're on the subject, should you scorn The sonnet on the sonnet on the sonnet. - Peter Dickinson The latter notes that Wordsworth, who wrote more than 500 sonnets in his lifetime, produced two of these 'meta-sonnets' (the other being 'Nuns Fret Not at Their Convent's Narrow Room') and Shakespeare, who wrote 154, none at all. Dickinson's selection of rhymes for 'critic' - and the self-referential closing couplet - may raise a smile. One has to wonder what Wordsworth, ever the serious Romantic, would have made of his "parasitic ingenuity". Paul [Martin adds] The final two lines of Dickinson's parody are absolutely brilliant. I wonder why Unauthorized Versions didn't pick this one up.  an absolutely delightful anthology of poems paired with their parodies, which both Thomas and I are huge fans of. We once ran a theme based on the book (see links), which today's pair of poems would have fitted very nicely into. [Links] Biography of Wordsworth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Wordsworth And of Dickinson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Dickinson The poem/parody theme: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/376.html http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/378.html http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/380.html