“Poetry/ is the shadow writing its name/ upon the person” Bill Knott
I’ve been thinking much about shadows recently perhaps because here in the UK at least, the sun has begun to cast a little warmth, its light is lasting longer which means shadows naturally follow suit (and as photographer I pursue them when I can!)
Shadows are as much part of our physical landscapes as our metaphysical world and so it is no surprise that the penumbral is a recurring theme for poets and writers. Hollander’s book “The substance of shadow” draws examples from innumerable poets to show how “metaphors of shadow influence our ideas of dreaming, desire, doubt, and death”
Aside from its murky side, the shadow as verb means to follow surreptitiously, to stalk, to keep in sight and to that end we come to the poetry form: The Shadow Sonnet, created by Amera M. Andersen and ‘Spirit to spirit” is her example:
“So many things have turned my spirit so.
Yet I do resist and yield to it yet.
Know that I give my strength for you to know.
Forget you? Nay, I shall never forget.
Left with my sandpaper dreams since you left.
Love lies in my spirit, for you my love.
Theft of your presence is not spirit theft.
Above all my dreams, I hold you above.
You now have returned, I knew it was you
Waiting so long as my heart was waiting;
few have returned, yet you’re one of the few.
Aching for you as my soul was aching.
War takes so many; yet, you’ve beaten war.
Door of my spirit, come enter my door.”
(Copyright © 2007)
Thus Andersen takes the sonnet form and adds a shadow – that is, a repeat word at the beginning and end of each line
And just to remind us what an English sonnet sounds like in the mouth of the Bard, here is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 53, in which he makes use of the shadow as theme:-
“ What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend.
Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit
Is poorly imitated after you;
On Helen’s cheek all art of beauty set,
And you in Grecian tires are painted new:
Speak of the spring and foison of the year,
The one doth shadow of your beauty show,
The other as your bounty doth appear;
And you in every blessed shape we know.
In all external grace you have some part,
But you like none, none you, for constant heart”
Your challenge is simply(!):
- write a sonnet poem of 14 lines and 10 syllables (iambic pentameter is optional extra)
- choose the Italian, English or French rhyme form *
- start and end each line with the same word (including derivatives and homophones)
- put ‘shadow’ or its derivative in your title
- use the notion of shadow as metaphor or reality somewhere in your poem
Hint: You may find it easier to use half rhymes or end rhymes. Enjambment is not usual in sonnet forms but do use it if you are really stuck!
*Note: Andersen’s ‘ Shadow Sonnet’ specifies any sonnet but since that term now has myriad defined forms, for the sake of this prompt, we will stick to the Classic three.
Once you have published your poem, add it to the Mr Linky below so that others can read it. Then go visiting others as that is half the enjoyment of our dVerse gatherings.
the Shadow Sonnet