Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: sonnets on sonnets

Credit: Hulton Archive / Stringer

In Competition No. 3305, you were invited to submit a sonnet entitled ‘Sonnet On Famous And Familiar Sonnets’.

The germ for this challenge was ‘Sonnet On Famous And Familiar Sonnets And Experiences’ by the gifted, troubled Delmore Schwartz, friend to Robert Lowell and John Berryman (who wrote a suite of poems in memory of him).

An imaginative and technically accomplished entry warrants high fives all round. The winners earn £20.

Weary with toil, and grey and full of sleep,
In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Standing aloof, consider how my light
Is spent. No help? Come let us kiss and part.
The world is too much with us, late and soon.
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Though night hath climbed her peak of highest noon.

Ah! changed and cold, how changed and very cold!
Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;
(Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold –
Scorn not a traveller in an antique land!)
Remember me: for restful death I cry –
Think only this of me if I should die.

Bill Greenwell

Are sonnets too much with us nowadays?
Have we o’erstayed our time in realms of gold,
Composing lists that try to count love’s ways?
Have eye/sun similes gone blind and cold?
What bright thing have we to which to compare
A beauty that is no diminished thing?
Upon whose works do we look with despair,
Our own or those of some inflated king?

If we interrogate our teeming brains,
Do we find there is nothing much to glean?
When we are proud of many living gains,
Do we succeed in breathing pure serene?
Have we the voice for hymns at heaven’s gate?
Or are we fated just to stand and wait.

Chris O’Carroll

Wyatt lists to hunt, but who’s the hind?
A queen to be, a tragic end to come.
In Poe’s Enigma sonnet you will find
A hidden name, a mystery to some.

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