Description: I posted the final sestet a couple of weeks ago, after having spent too much time turning in circles trying to get an octave to work and make this into a Petrarchan sonnet. I've now reworked the initial octave and gotten to the result below, but I'm not sure that the two really fit together. Any opinions would be welcome. Does the octave fit the sestet? or is the final sestet better off on its own?
This piece was inspired by a conversation with my friend Clément, who at one point said (in French) that his goal in life had become to achieve a serene instability ("une instabilité sereine", were his words). This idea struck me and was the germ for what is here.
This age of plenty leaves us insecure,
material need fulfilled at the expense
of spiritual anguish. The immense
expanse of choice can lead one to obscure
one's mind in fogs, surrend'ring to the lure
of comfortable vacuum — death's defense,
a massive grave of sterile spirit whence
demure yet ardent souls cannot mature.
The steadfast choice of life means to conceive
one's path of self, in bold fragility,
from strands of love and joy and words, to weave
one's fate in absence of necessity
and walk a tightrope, striving to achieve
serene and clement instability.
"of spiritual anguish." SPIriTUal is not normal pronunciation, but this is acceptable for poetry.
"can lead one to obscure", this one irks me, as I never stress "to" while speaking.
This reminds me of things like "existentialism", according to which man has to conceive his own purpose, as there are no definite fate or objective morals set out by some higher God-like being. Man has to create his own morals, and his own reason for existence. When a knife is created, it already has a purpose for existence. However when man comes into the world, he has no objective purpose for existing.
" a massive grave of sterile spirit whence
demure yet ardent souls cannot mature." This part says to me that that those people who do not have purposes, but exist like robots, are sterile and death-like, and such people both suppress and prevent the creation of purposeful beings.
" one's fate in absence of necessity" There is no determined fate.
"from strands of love and joy and words, to weave" Our choice of purpose will be affected by who and what we love, who advises us etc. I think the poem flows better without the comma: "from strands of love and joy and words to weave", because there is an automatic pause after weave due to the line break; but the comma after words made the line too halting. Similarly, "and walk a tightrope, striving to achieve", sounds better as, "and walk a tightrope striving to achieve".
my take on this is it's a good start, but it didn't move me. you're awfully abstract here. i do agree with fred - it does seem somewhat forced, but then i've never been able to write sonnets, so what do i know?
Well, technically, you can make this fit the form, but does it read well? I think not. It feels too forced to fit the meter scheme. Ex: “maTERial NEED fulFILLED at THE exPENSE”. However, the natural way of reading and speaking would be: “maTERial NEED fulFILLED at the exPENSE”.
Perhaps it’s purely a matter of taste. You seem to aim for description of things from the outside while I work at ferreting out my internal reactions. In any case, I prefer that something read naturally – that is, sound in the same meter that I would use to speak it.
As for the ideas, I concur totally.
As for the phrasing, some of it is very nice: “one's path of self, in bold fragility” and “to weave one's fate in absence of necessity” are probably my two favorites.