Time Travel Through A Sonnet Gate

Many years ago (I’ll tell, but only if you’re brave enough to ask) I wrote this poem.  I’ve actually posted it before, a little over a year ago, but I wanted it next to my most recent sonnet.  I think they make an interesting pair.  I’m not sure if my current self is much handier with a sonnet than my twenty-year-old self, but I’ve a fondness for this sonnet that makes it difficult to revise.  (Anyone else have that trouble?)  Read and enjoy.  I welcome your critiques.

Upon Turning Twenty

Where is the one who loved without preference,
whose tender laugh chimed sweet like golden bells?
Where has the child gone, bright-eyed Innocence,
whose smile, so pure, the darkest clouds dispels?
For hate and sorrow overcast my sight,
and bitter knowledge grieves my waning heart:
Death’s shadows wax without my seraph light,
and in black silence you and I must part.
Truth speak, once open-hearted friend, and say,
is it my fault this child, the best of guides,
has vanished while I blindly go astray?
Is it from me my own Innocence hides?
Say those pure tones will sound my muffled soul
and an unerring love will light my vision whole.

for dVerse Open Link Night, Week 24

About T A Hillin-Smith

Just one of the literacy scholars on this site who wants to explore writing in all its complexities.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Reflections, Sonnet and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Time Travel Through A Sonnet Gate

  1. Thomas Davis says:

    Yousei, this is a magnificent sonnet. The meter is perfect, your sense of rhyming is perfect, and it has the form down: The four line breaks lead to thought breaks that build to the couplet at the end. You are a wonderful poet.

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thomas Davis,
      The days have been cloudy lately, and just when a gloom settles in, a ray of smiles shines in the window. Today the dust motes spelled your name, I could see it clearly in the light. Thank you for your comment. I’m very glad you liked the sonnet. I loved the recent ones you shared, especially the one about the boy sharing his photography with his mother (27). Happy New Year to you both. May we inspire one another with our writing.

  2. ManicDdaily says:

    Lovely poem. “Is it from me that my own Innocence hides?” Hmmm… very thoughtful. K.

  3. claudia says:

    i remember when i turned twenty…quite some time ago..def. a big step into the grown-up world..well captured here.. happy new year to you yousei

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome and Happy New Year to you too. 🙂 Thank you for your visits and comments since my stumbling across dVerse. You and all the others have made it a wonderful experience.

  4. Snowflakes says:

    quite charming…


  5. I enjoyed your “time travel.” May we all know a “vision whole” in due time. Although I have not tried to write a sonnet so far, I too often feel that something would be lost if my older self tried to “improve” a younger poem.

    Happy New Year, Ellen

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome and thank you for the read and especially the comment. I’m delighted that you enjoyed the poem. Revising sentimental favorites is tricky, and I always struggle with it. I’ll continue to try though. Some poems are definitely worth revising, others just need the subject reformed. No matter what the outcome, the revision process is a necessary part of growth as a writer. I do so much revising in the initial, before publishing phases, that I rarely come back to those “finished” products. I’m recognizing a need to institute a new policy of post-published revision, especially if I hope to see publication someday. Thank you for stopping by. I’ve enjoyed my visits to your site. So much to see there.

      • Surely agree too that “revision…is a necessary part of growth as a writer.” When I taught academic writing (not poetry), I had rough draft conferences with my students, something I learned from an older colleague. The number of my younger poems I am leaving be is small–the gifts! Thanks very much for your kind words. Am self-taught as a poet. Mentors include Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw. Always feel I am just beginning, as I’m sure is common among many writers.

        • Yousei Hime says:

          I think an abundance of confidence is a rare trait among writers. I don’t have it, but I do know when I write something worth saving, at least most of the time. Readers and editors look for different things, so it will be a while before I can recognize what is worth publishing, at least in my own writing. I like your mentors, especially L’Engle. As you taught your students, writing is a process. Really, it’s like laundry and dishes, rarely coming to a recognizable end. At least that’s the point I’m at.

  6. Brendan says:

    It’s always great to see how the poet grows through h/her work — I read the Christmas sonnet after this one, and what I see is how much talent there was to begin with — this is finely crafted, musical, precise — and how much is added of the own poet’s experience. The sources are very evident here — the gilding of more classical sonnets. Strong foundation indeed to grow from. I’m convinced there’s no way to properly write unless one has read much before starting; yet the work is so much a making of that reading something one’s own, in one’s own voice. Great work. – Brendan

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Welcome and thank you. I’m both flattered and embarrassed that you recognize those classical sources. I adore Shakespeare and Keats (as well as others), so the “Turning Twenty” sonnet wouldn’t escape those influences. My mother has always loved the early one (don’t think I’ll be sharing the second one with her, too gloomy). Though she makes no claims to understanding poetry in general, she always mentions this one. Obviously that’s because her daughter wrote it, but I think she likes the subject and the musicality you mentioned. I really appreciate you reading both. I’m grateful you responded and took the time to share these with me. Happiest of New Years to you and yours.

  7. Well, in terms of form, I think it’s perfectly executed. You nailed the meter/rhyme, and got a turn or two in there. Theme-wise, not too shabby, but I’d want to see you pair the technical prowess you show here with your usual fabulous eye to nature and happenings. So many sonnets are about the same things (love, melancholy, time, or all three) that it’s a wonder people still write them. Madeleine L’Engle said it best: like life, you have extremely strict form, but within that structure, you have complete freedom to say whatever you want. (So why choose those three things? Go wild!)

    Sorry, maybe I got too pedantic there. 🙂

    • Yousei Hime says:

      I am always, always delighted to read a comment from you, brief or long (longer is better of course, 😉 ). At the time I wrote the “Turning Twenty” sonnet, I was all about getting it right–meter and rhyme and such. I’ll try to take a revisionist look at it with nature in mind. I’m certain it will end up an almost brand new poem with that approach. And you quoted L’Engle. I adore her. She’s written so much in so many forms and with brain-spinning depth.

      Never too much teaching, only lecturing. If you are pointing out details, you’ve seen things that must be considered, though not necessarily implemented. I love learning and fell into seiza quite sensibly listening to my young sensei. Happiest of New Years to you. I look forward to reading more from you as you settle in from the holidays. (p.s. You have the coolest closet ever.)

  8. brian says:

    very nicely done to form…and great opening question…i do think they can be found again you know…may your soul light….smiles…

    • Yousei Hime says:

      Thank you, brian. Always glad to read your comments. Best of New Years to you and your family. I’ll be searching for the soul light diligently next year to make my poems sparkle.

  9. slpmartin says:

    Well…now I cannot wait to see the next of your sonnets. 🙂

    • Yousei Hime says:

      🙂 Thank you. I guess I’ll just have to write another one. Give me a bit of time to find the right subject and inspiration. I think sonnets demand those things (they’re a bit particular, you see). Have a wonderful New Year.

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