The Sonnet Game. Or how fashioning poems becomes a metaphor for Early Modern English creative life. Blank verse Common meter Broadsides Shaped verse Counterfeiting Pastoral Sprezzatura Enjambment Tottel’s Miscellany Fashioning/ Self-Fashioning. Sonnet Italian or Petrarchan
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Or how fashioning poems becomes a metaphor for Early Modern English creative life
Italian or Petrarchan
English or Shakespearean
Octave & Sestet
Quatrains & Couplet
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. intellectual creativity
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
--King James Bible, 1611
The Lord to me a shepherd is, X
Want therefore shall not I, A
He in the folds of tender grass X
Doth make me down to lie A
To waters calm he gently leads X
Restore my soul doth he B
He doth in paths of righteousness X
For his name’s sake lead me. B
Yea though in valley of death’s shade
I walk, none ill I’ll fear,
Because thou art with me, thy rod,
And staff my comfort are.
For me a table thou hast spread
In presence of my foes;
Thou dost anoint my head with oil
My cup it over-flows.
Goodness and mercy surely shall
All my days follow me;
And in the Lord’s house I shall dwell
So long as days shall be.
--Bay Psalm Book, 1640
We can die by it, if not live by love, And if unfit for tomb or hearseOur legend be, it will be fit for verse ; And if no piece of chronicle we prove, We'll build in sonnets pretty rooms ; As well a well-wrought urn becomesThe greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs, And by these hymns, all shall approve Us canonized for love…
----John Donne, The Canonization
My mouth doth water, and my breast doth swell, A
My tongue doth itch, my thoughts in labor be; B
Listen then, lordings, with good ear to me, B
For of my life I must a riddle tell. A
Toward Aurora's court a nymph doth dwell, A
Rich in all beauties which man's eye can see; B
Beauties so far from reach of words that we B
Abase her praise saying she doth excel. A
Rich in the treasure of deserved renown, C
Rich in the riches of a royal heart, D
Rich in those gifts which give th' eternal crown; C
Who, though most rich in these and every part D
Which make the patents of true worldly bliss, E
Hath no misfortune but that Rich she is. E
--Sir Philip Sidney
A witless gallant, a young wench that wooed A
(Yet his dull spirit her not one jot could move), B
Entreated me, as e'er I wished his good A
To write him but one sonnet to his love; B
When I, as fast as e'er my pen could trot, C
Poured out what first from quick invention came, D
Nor never stood one word thereof to blot, C
Much like his wit, that was to use the same; D
But with my verses he his mistress won, E
Who doted on the dolt beyond all measure. F
But see, for you to heav'n for phrase I run, E
And ransack all Apollo's golden treasure; F
Yet by my froth this fool his love obtains, G
And I lose you for all my wit and pains. G
Obscurely yet most surely called to praise, AAs sometimes summer calls us all, I said BThe hills are heavens full of branching ways A Where star-nosed moles fly overhead the dead; B I said the trees are mines in air, I said B See how the sparrow burrows in the sky! CAnd then I wondered why this mad insteadB Perverts our praise to uncreation, why C Such savour's in this wrenching things awry. C Does sense so stale that it must needs derange DThe world to know it? To a praiseful eye C Should it not be enough of fresh and strange D That trees grow green, and moles can course in clay, EAnd sparrows sweep the ceiling of our day? E
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire, Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long
Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea all water, yet receives rain still
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in Will, add to thy Will
One will of mine, to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will.
--Shakespeare, Sonnet 135
Above all, intellectual creativityhave fun! Writing sonnets, then reading them aloud, was a game that people in the Early Modern period enjoyed as a way to show off their intellect and creativity. Just as modern musicians want to create lyrics that sound spontaneous but that they have worked on for many hours, sonneteers used these forms to express many of the same emotions and feelings.