Saturday, October 10, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on July 12, 2014]


It’s nearly bedtime, but I’m seeing shapes
Beyond the window, on a hill of grapes.

She looks like me, cocooned inside a cask,
basking in rays of light the pulp has bent
into a halo. She flirts behind a mask
of wings: white wings, but veined with sediment.

All day I’ve been an angel on parade
among the clusters, praising spirits caged
inside. But dusk brought out the moths, afraid
of fading light and proof of having aged.

They batter at the pane behind my blinds
for sixty watts of ecstasy and harass
my reverie until the morning finds
one pasted like a label to the glass.

Copyright © 2015 by Eric Meub
Eric Meub, architect, lives and practices in Pasadena. He is the adopted brother of the artist, Susan C. Price. They respect, in their different ways, the line.


  1. Hi Eric, I enjoyed the sound reading your unusual sonnet, unusual in the rhyme scheme and in avoiding the traditional English or Shakespeare form where the poem is clearly divided into two sections where each section has its own rhyme group, signifying different subject matter.
    See info by Nelson Miller, on basic forms of the sonnet:
    The change of topic usually starts at Line9, and is called a "volta", or "turn."
    Miller argues "The rurn is an essential element of the sonnet form".
    The English sonnet has the simplest and most flexible pattern of all sonnets, consisting of three quatrains of alternating rhyme and a final couplet:

    Your sonnet, instead starts with the couplet
    and continues with three quatrainns
    In contrast to tradition your sonnet has two topics, the butterfly in the sunny daylight over a hill of grapevines vs moths becoming alive in the night in a death dance against an uplit window at night, but these two topics are not sorted into own quatrains but contrast each other within quatrains.
    It remains unclear to me whether you have a traditional " volta" which divides your sonnet into two main parts. As well, you eliminate the concluding couplet which provides a summary in the traditional sonnet. Your initial couplet, instead, is a general introduction.

    I conclude. I'm puzzled by form of your sonnet but liked the sound and many rhythms of your poem very much.

    Perhaps you can clear up my bad knowledge of modern sonnet forms.


    1. Dear Rolf, what a wonderfully detailed reading of this poem! Your knowledge of sonnet form is very good. As you probably know, sonnet originally meant "little song," and referred to many forms of differing lengths and organizations. The form that is often meant when a scholar mentions "sonnet form," was based on the Italian sonnets of Petrarch. It is certainly not the only form however; it may not even be the most frequent. Even Shakespeare and Milton experimented with the form. The sonnet--like the epic, the novel, and the lyric--is an evolving literary form. To call any aspect of that form "essential" as Miller does, is sometimes helpful for the reader, but perhaps a tad dogmatic for the writer. Many writers of sonnets do not include the Volta in the same location. Some do not include it at all. The Romantics, such as Wordsworth and Shelley, took great liberties with the form. Shelley's sonnet to Wordsworth is especially interesting in that the Volta (his condemnation of the very poet he once admired) occurs in the final couplet. In the case of the poem above, the Volta has been elongated or stretched, if one can call it that, across the final three quatrains. Being a meditation on fermentation as a metaphor for the gradations of psychic states, each quatrain offers a different, deeper, and less controlled projection of the original matter-of-fact observation, just as a bottle of wine leads from the initial delight, to intoxication, and eventually to the morning after. But the poem could just as easily be regarded as something that looks like a sonnet, but isn't: there's no law against composing fourteen pentameter lines without obeying any external mandate. Such a reading sparks a query about the relation of form to content, or, in this particular case, the relation of the bottle to the wine: an equally astute perspective. Finally, any poetic experiment may fail, as this one very well may have. That's how poets learn, thanks to careful readers like you. Hats off to you for taking poetry and form as seriously as it deserves.