Wednesday, January 21, 2009

External Form (Sonnets) #2: Sonnets by Billy Collins p.1035

I love how this sonnet makes fun of the structural forms of sonnets and the "stress" over sticking to the guidelines. "All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now, and after this one just a dozen," describes the typical fourteen line stanza of a sonnet. Collins sarcastically pokes fun of the typical themes of sonnets, "launch a little ship on love's storm-tossed seas" and the more intricate Elizabethan sonnets that "insist the iambic bongos must be played and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines." The irony throughout "Sonnet" is that is follows the fourteen line form of a sonnet and sometimes uses a rhyme scheme (see quote above).
The typical Petrarchan or Italian form of 8-6 line sonnets, Collin's notes at the end of his sonnet. "But hang on here while we make the turn into the final six where all will be resolved." Ironically, Collin's last six lines ending not only his own literal sonnet but, his fake love themed sonnet he mentions in his octave, "where longing and heartache will find an end." Specifically targeting the originator of the Italian form, "tell Petrarch to put down his pen, take off those crazy medieval tights, blow out the lights, and come at last to bed." These final words show that although Collin's clear message showcased his cynical view on sonnet writing and style. He would ironically and intentionally end up writing a sonnet, following the very guidelines of the poets whom he criticized.

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