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Seven Sonnets for Valentine's Day

Updated on February 13, 2014

Seven Sonnets for Valentine's Day

I thought I'd mark the occasion with a collection of a few of my sonnets on a romantic theme. Perhaps not strictly love poems in the normal sense, all are in some way related to love. I hope you find something to enjoy in them.

Nowadays, most of us tend to choose our valentine card(s!) or worse, e-cards, by the picture. The verse inside, if there is one, is usually a pretty perfunctory effort, short, formulaic, clich├ęd and of no intrinsic worth. But there was a time, a mere four hundred years ago, when a gentleman would consider it correct form to spend time crafting an original poem for his lady. And for the Renaissance gentleman, the poem of choice would most often be a sonnet. The sonnet was, and still is, unsurpassed in its power to express depth of thought and intense emotion together and to sustain both through its full fourteen lines.

This first one, Travellers, is about a chance encounter in a commuter train.

Travellers

No crash, no broken glass, no injury.
A mild derailment, quiet loss of power
or small mechanical catastrophe,
enough to leave us stranded for an hour,
is all I ask. The driver can explain
politely to three hundred fretting souls
how trivial the loss, how rare the gain
in marking time by Mirton-under-Moles,
at which we acquiesce, and one by one
find friends behind each dull commuting stare -
fierce devotees of Guardian and Sun
in temporary comradeship. Aware
of precious company and circumstance,
we talk, we two. There is no room to dance.

And this one, Something Pressing, tries to capture some of the urgency we feel with advancing years...

Something Pressing

Some call it courtship, some a waste of time,
the candlelight, the mandatory flowers,
the amateurish dalliance with rhyme,
the quaint preponderance of glades and bowers,
The evening dress that catches on the heel
and in the door of every cab in town,
the standing in the station, when you feel
much more inclined to burn the bastard down.
We've done it all, with patience and decorum.
We could continue, but we're growing old.
Time murmurs in my ear "You've had a quorum
of hearts and valentines. Why not be bold?"
So come and play the pepper to my salt,
quickly, before we're tantric by default.

Have you ever been shocked to realise that you've fallen in love? That someone has come into your life when you weren't looking?

Maturity

I was a lover once before the curve
of melancholy closed around my joy
tightening close, so close my spirit starved
for light, for air, for laughter. Did I try
to break the bond, to set my future free
and win again the pleasures I had known?
No! for the sleep was on me. I would say
"Here is maturity. All that is gone
is youth, and I am not the boy I was."
"Wisdom", my folly said, "is higher aim
than love", and I was flattered to express
blind acquiescence. Dullness had me tamed.
How could I know that fate would lead me to you?
Christ, I'm in love, and hale-bloody-lujah !

This one, Phoenix, is more nostalgic than immediate. I'm sure we all have memories.

Phoenix

A love remembered is a love too long
forgotten. Pictures fade but do not age
as lovers do, though tenderness belong
to every reawakening on the stage
of memory. And now I know you as
a poem I crammed away, in innocence
of meaning, empty word chains in a class
of carefree boys. The lines are gone. The sense,
no longer bound to rote, is free to fly,
to change, return again, and to surprise
my equanimity with sudden joy.
And slow regret, born as I realise
our youth, our love, are photographs of snow -
frozen forever, melted long ago.

And this one, With Coffee, is one of these moments of recognition, in the aftermath of a candlelit dinner.

With Coffee

Slight movement. Now your shadow on the map
blends into mine, and with the candle's rays
occluded we imagine light is scarce,
so I lean forward too. Your hair and mine,
together now, need not be recognised
as touch, and so we do not draw away.
And where your finger traces out the route
we ought to choose, your hesitation shows
that gentle contradiction from my own
might not be unforeseen. My Northern Line
meets yours at Camden Town, our fingertips
and futures touch as one, laughed in a glance
that lingers, deepens, burns from pure surprise
to find reflection in another's eyes.

My second last, voices, is about layers of communication above the literal meaning of what we say.

voices

our voices know each other in a tongue
we barely understand - words follow words
through turns of everyday - what we have done
what we have said - to whom - things we have heard
ephemeral meanings floated on a stream
like paper galleys - these - the stuff of sense
of caveats - when in a doubting time
we question why and find the answer less
than reason - still - an echo of the sound
prevails - an intertwining of your tone
and mine - your cadences - my counterpoint
our rise and fall - a sweeter music than
we care to name is ours - our voices have
learned to transcend the dull taboos of love

I'm giving the last word to my friend Herbie Vaugh, an incorrigible garrulous bungler and renowned bore. This is his attempted sonnet:

Herbie's Valentine

Rest, Valentine, where music soaks your bed
and troubles die, hastened by smelly flecks
of coriander from pomander fled
carried on fan-made winds, the trailing flex
slipped safely out of sight with scarce a sound.
Invisible - like shy potatoes growing
for us to eat below the very ground
we walk above though from the path not going -
inaudible as well, like thoughts of you
that sneak unbidden, hidden in my skull,
cave of my brain, shape of my head's skin too,
nice thoughts, I get them when the weather's dull.
So rest there, Valentine, if that's OK
I think that's most of what I meant to say.

This hub will probably be flagged for duplicate content, because all of these poems are already on my personal website. If you would like to read more, There's a link to my site on my Profile page.

Thank you for reading!

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    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 8 years ago from Madrid

      That was wonderful, Paraglider! I particularly liked Maturity and voices! With Coffee is lovely, too! Thanks for the pointer to your website, I never realized you had one!

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

      Very nice work! I'd have to say I'm partial to Herbie's Valentine, though they're all great.

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Elena. I've had a website for a long time but recently I moved all the content onto Blogger where I find it much easier to manage

      Christoph - Herbie has his moments :) Thanks!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

      You use the iambic pentametre so wonderfully well! Valentine verses somehow are so unexpected from you :) I particularly loved Phoenix and Voices.

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

      Hi Paraglider,

      'With Coffee' is my favourite, though they're all very fine. I don't come across too many sonnets, and it's interesting to read contemporary references in a 'Shakespearian' style verse form. Very gentle and pleasing.

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Shalini - romance isn't my usual genre, but now and again I take the notion. Thanks for the read :)

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      H Amanda - I've always enjoyed sonnets but most of mine tend to be on more eclectic subjects. It's a form that lends itself to philosophising.

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 8 years ago from The Other Bangor

      The pleasing pattern of iambic lines

      makes these a joy to read. Great Valentines!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 8 years ago from South Africa

      I'm not going to be intellectual about my appreciation! Just a warm thanks for some great poems!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Teresa and Tony - thanks, both, for your appreciation :)

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      These are excellent! Thank you, and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Suzanne :)

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      Wonderful Poems... Paraglider. I wish I had that skill...

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Anamika - you can do it. A little practice and a lot of reading. Anyone who can enjoy poetry can learn to write it. Go for it :)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      beautiful and nice ones Dave, You are a poet and a writer, good one, How are you? Happy Valentines to you, Maita

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Maita - thanks for this timely rediscovery :) Maybe Valentine's Day will bring a new crop of readers!

      Settling back to the routine of Doha, after my winter break. How about you?

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      Hey Dave, am working on my own blog, Filipino site, hope can finish it soon, plus busy posting to other sites like yousaytoo and shetoldme, Hope your ok? welcome back, Maita

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 6 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      My didn't that year fly... thank you for this fine example of excellence Dave. Always have enjoyed your writing.. take care.

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks Pearldiver. Years do, especially recent ones!

    • almasi profile image

      almasi 6 years ago

      Excellent poetry

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      almasi - welcome. Thanks for reading :)

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

      You write a mean sonnet, Paraglider. These were just delightful. I don't know which one is my favorite-- but i resonated to Phoenix. I felt those sentimental old memories in my bones..... I also love the phrase " tantric by default". While I love ecards for ease and speed, you are right about the sonnet-- it is a neglected and wonderful form of romantic communication. Thanks as always for a good read

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks robie - the trouble with sonnets is they don't fit in a tweet. In fact even a haiku can struggle!

    • profile image

      nazzie 5 years ago

      that was beautiful....i especially enjoyed voices

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks nazzie :)

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 4 years ago

      hey thanks for friending me on facebook, it brought me to this work, i so enjoyed reading..... i am a romantic at heart...... hugs Brenda Scully

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Brenda - glad you liked them, and thanks for telling me :)

    • profile image

      hater 4 years ago

      they don't ryme this sux

    • profile image

      trimony0028 4 years ago

      ^hater you can be quiet, these sonnets are just fine.

    • profile image

      scream003664wassup 4 years ago

      Hi hater, be quiet

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      hater and friends - numbers 1,2,4,7 rhyme conventionally, numbers 3,6 use slant rhyme, number 5 is not rhymed, except for the final couplet.

    • Joy56 profile image

      Joy56 4 years ago

      dont mention it..... any time.......

    • snakeslane profile image

      snakeslane 3 years ago from Canada

      Hey paraglider. enjoying your romantic side here, hoping someday soon I'll learn how to write a sonnet, snakeslane

    • Paraglider profile image
      Author

      Dave McClure 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Thanks snakeslane, and not many people find this hub in October! It's very seasonal :)

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