Three Vixen Sonnets
An attempt at the sonnet form and an attack on Oscar Wilde’s ‘unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable’ – a re-post – sorry trying to finish my fifth album so my postings have been sparse of late.
THREE VIXEN SONNETS
As storm scud swirls beneath black-bellied clouds,
soft sounds behind her, the rain is muffling
hungry empty-bellied whines and snuffling
that prompts slow-pawed slinking through hedgerow-shrouds;
ears pricked at hints of a gathering crowd.
Slip shadow-fast where the cows are shuffling,
skirting Brock-ways where the cubs are scuffling;
senses as sharp as her proud mother endowed,
weaving watchful through green waterlogged oats;
pressed to the ground at a scattering of hail;
creeping towards those hen-houses in rows:
the rush and the strike, fangs clamping on throats –
a murmuration of starlings turn tail
at flight to the caws of a murder of crows.
Grey veils lift high above verdant hillsides,
horns sound behind her, the rain stops falling,
willows weep on; the dog-fox is calling
chough-chatter tells her there’s nowhere to hide.
Thunder now, horsemen! the blood-coated tide;
thoroughbreds fence-shy; riders a-sprawling;
run, hunting hounds! bred for the mauling;
rending the vermin men cannot abide.
At the edge of the woods, the vixen’s at bay,
far below the parliament of owls,
she lays down her prize in the snarling of roots
for the magpies bear her poor tidings today!
She shivers with fear at hallooing and howls,
scenting the leather of harness and boots.
Hunting horns sound as from hiding she slips
arrow dart, brush-straight and into the sun
dandelions clock her last desperate run
into the jaws of four-pawed apocalypse,
horses a-lather from the whacking of whips.
She’s torn to pieces for pleasure and fun –
what creature smears the face of its young:
inedible blood by unquestioning lips?
Her carcass is left to the carrion clatter;
her bones to bleach by the lone meadow elm.
As inns ring to song, the raising of ales,
is such a death an ethical matter?
That answer lies in a sinister realm
beyond the dark watches of nightingales.
(c) Paul D E Mitchell 2014 2016
Hi, Mitch. Are these your first attempts at the sonnet? I can see you’ve gone for the Italian or Petrarchan variety, which is not the easiest one to write in English, as it is quite hard to find four rhymes for an English word. The Shakespearean sonnet is better adapted to our language. Having said that, you do come up with some inventive rhymes, particularly apocalypse/whips etc. I think that sonnets always work better with some kind of regular meter. It doesn’t necessarily have to be iambic pentameter, it could be anapaestic tetrameter or whatever you want, as long as… Read more »
Thanks, Archie – I thought I would try the Petrarchan and iambic pentameter – it is quite the challenge to do three sonnets on a subject like this. I have a strong rhythm throughout but I do think I could have done better but drew a blank after these final three but such formats are good in that they develop word-sense and wordplay arising from these constraints normally missing from simple free verse formats.
I can see that you’ve gone for ten syllables per line, but not iambic pentameter. For example: “soft sounds behind her, the rain is muffling” would be stressed as follows: “SOFT SOUNDS beHIND her, the RAIN is MUFFling”, that is to say, with no consistent rhythm at all. No sane person in a million years would ever give this line an iambic cadence: soft SOUNDS beHIND her, THE rain IS muffLING… A good example of consistent rhythm would be: “far below the parliament of owls” Technically, this is not iambic but trochaic, because it starts with a stressed syllable. But… Read more »
Indeed Archie – I tried again and again to force the iambic cadence but it I just could not get it right and had to settle for the mixed stress-patterns: dactylic ‘AS inns ring TO song, the” and so on. Nevertheless, the three sonnets hang together reasonably well IMHO. Mitch