Once I thought I’d knit the world back up,
Heroically—another Orpheus, but one
With lyre self-sacrificially unstrung
And husbanding for thread my lengths of gut.
So in my time I’ve darned a few loose ends
Inexpertly, leaving the places
Where the brittle cloth had frayed
Still all too visible. Still, mended.
Confessedly I took the greater care
Near home, not wanting to slip out
Of the world myself through a thin spot.
And if I went wrong it was there:
Narrowly tending to the world above,
Where the real Orpheus chose to harrow hell for love.
Insensibly, spring’s thaw had started. By then they’d begun
Reciting one another’s commonplaces like a favorite song.
Later, their sighs swelled summer’s air as summer’s days grew long.
Each met the other’s stolen glances, each one shining to the other like a sun.
As in the yard the new grapes imperceptibly prospered
Where the same force drove life up through the cinctured vine,
So she beneath his breathless hands, he beneath hers, in their good time,
Grew bountiful and swollen and about to burst.
After that perfect, endless season throughout which they grew
(Endless, because perfect; perfect, for seeming without end)
The early frosts began to come. Little was left unharvested by then—
And the young wine already making, that would be laid by,
Years on to savor of those dusty, languorous days, those earnest nights,
Those vanished morns when she, and he, and the whole world, were new.
God’s sake, don’t write a sonnet! What’s the point?
That boy you like will still be fully dressed,
And other poets still be unimpressed
(In fact, their noses may go out of joint).
Feeling is first! Form’s just an afterthought,
And rhyming’s unforgiving work at best,
When every single line feels like a test.
So, should you write a sonnet? You should not.
Oh, Petrarch, Shakespeare, had their vogue, it’s true,
But really, fourteen lines is awfully long.
Best get in — cut the middle — finish strong.
Who wants a sonnet? You should write haiku.
Trust me, I’ve thought this through and through: put down the pen.
The sonnet’s day is gone, and will not come again.