My Son’s First Sonnet

Romeo and Juliet

Image by Craig S via Flickr

My freshman is studying Romeo and Juliet as the school year winds down. (Just what we need heading into summer–teen love angst.) As a part of that study, he and his classmates have to write sonnets. (Wow!  Really?  Freshman writing sonnets?)  He was so excited that he sat right down and wrote this:

Hit by the fiery weapon
Dissolved into luscious red petals
Death seemed imminent now
To sway under life’s brow
Where Gaea reaches the chaos
Halted time breathless undersea
Counter-rotation time spins back
To life before the death
Saving the lost old soul
Hit by day’s new light
And strikes the clocks night
Shock strikes me back here
Now red petals form pools
Songs of memorial now sing
Inside Gaea the sepulchred lays

Impressed?  I was.  Stunned, actually.  Then I reverted to Mom/teacher and asked him if he’d read the assignment handout.  Mmmm . . . of course not.  So, we discussed the requirements for the sonnet (syllables, rhyme scheme, fourteen lines) and revised it to this:

Watching one hit by the fiery weapon,
Then dissolved into luscious red petals,
I knew death imminent now.  Yet deep in
The sway under life’s brow, resolve settles
Where Gaea reaches, into chaos, back–
Halting time.  Our breathless souls undersea,
Time spins in counter-rotation.  Attack
What was; return before fatality,
Willing to life the shattered, cherished soul.
Behold one hit by another day’s light.
Sound strikes and clock’s night disperses control
Shock strikes me back to dawn.  I reunite
With truth.  Now red petals form pools, a bequest,
Within Gaea , sings the sepulchred rest.

Personally, I like his original best.  This week I have one graduating and one writing sonnets.  Man!  What a fantastic week!

About T A Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in By My Children, Favorite Poems by Others, Poetry, Sonnet, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to My Son’s First Sonnet

  1. Tilly Bud says:

    Well done your son! I can’t write sonnets; I’m impressed. I prefer his first version because it’s raw and honest.

  2. fivereflections says:

    great post: hopefully your son will keep the polished and the unpolished, as well as any fragments scribbled. enjoy watching you sons learn and personify what interest them.

    Romeo and Juliet certainly get better the older you get, while it stirs forgotten reflections, it constantly reminds us how beautiful the English language is!

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for your visit and thoughtful comment. I am proud of both my boys and their many talents. We are definitely keeping both versions, as well as the illustration he did for it.

      I do love the language of Shakespeare. What pleased me most about the whole Romeo and Juliet assignment was how interested my son became in the language of the play. I’m going to try and cultivate that interest this summer. Perhaps more sonnets will come of it.

  3. Artswebshow says:

    I respect anyone who can write sonnets.
    I struggle so much with them.
    You do right to be proud of your boys

  4. For a first sonnet, that’s pretty impressive, especially as a freshman. Congrats!

    I don’t know if your son’s class is covering this, but Romeo and Juliet is FANTASTIC for exploring really subtle poetic tricks. Juliet uses really formal language when speaking with Paris (proper, flowery, artificial romance), but really simple language with Romeo (straightforward, unadorned love). The nobility are the ones that speak in verse, while commoners speak in prose. Sonnets pop up through the play for those moments of romantic hyperbole, and other iambic pentameter forms show up as well. And so on and so forth…

    Sorry for being pedantic, I just really love R+J for its language. The plot, I could take it or leave it. 😉

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome back! 😀 I’m sure their teacher has mentioned some of those things, but surely you remember your freshman days and how attentive students were to such fine and wonderful details. 😉 Still, I was very excited to listen to my son for days and days talk about what they did in class and to watch him imitate the language (poorly but still adorable) of Shakespeare. It’s interesting to me how people develop an awareness of language for situation/audience. I remember being aware of needing certain language and politeness for different people and situations from a very young age. Yet my children and most of their peers don’t seem to differentiate much. My eldest is finally starting to get it, but often reverts to form (which is rude and full of himself–ugh). Still, it is so thrilling and I feel such pride watching my youngest study Romeo and Juliet and LIKE it. Maybe I can talk him into a Shakespeare movie festival this summer. I think Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh) would be a good place to start.

  5. Very nice! My daughter is studying Romeo and Juliet right now, too. Rather than write a sonnet, she (along with a small group of other students) had to create a skit putting a scene into contemporary language (she played the part of Romeo). Fun, but somehow not as impressive as a sonnet. 🙂

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Oh I don’t know, writing and performing a modern language version of Shakespeare is pretty impressive too. Sure is fun watching our kids get caught up in the classics. They read and perform the play in my son’s class. I still remember the day he came home and said, “Mom, I kissed Juliet today . . . three times.”

  6. lesliepaints says:

    Tell your son that I think his poetry is music. …but more than that? please tell him how I jump for joy that he is excited and passionate about writing! I vote for his passion the most!

  7. sandy says:

    I like it both ways. We had to do sonnets in the 11th grade. You would not have believed them! You should be very proud of your son.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for the visit and comment. I wrote one in high school, but I don’t remember if it was assigned or not. I thought they were very difficult. I still think they are a more difficult form to write well, to get a natural feel. I am very proud of him.

  8. Pingback: Cinquain about maple | nihongozuki

  9. nihongozuki says:

    This week I have one graduating and one writing sonnets. Man! What a fantastic week!

    Personally, I like his original best.

    I also like the first…

    I’m not acquainted with sonnets very much, so I can’t judge your son’s sonnet, but, I think, it is very good for freshman.

    As for me, I wrote only few verses in my life. Last week I wrote my first сinquain when I was helping the son of my acquaintance to do homework in Chuvash language(my native one). Of course, the сinquain. Composing it was interesting and funny. The subject was maple.

    It grows, blooms, turns green.
    I want to climb and sit there.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you for your comment on the sonnets; I am very proud of my son. I think your cinquain turned out quite well. For me it captures what I love best about my favorite trees. Welcome back and thank you for the mention on your blog.

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