Readers of this blog know my affinity to the sonnet poetic form. Nearly five years ago in this space, I posted my first poem (a sonnet) and mentioned one of my writing goals was to compose one hundred sonnets, hoping my efforts would allow me to attain a level of “mastery” with the form.By my count, I have recently reached the century mark of sonnets posted on Wise Blood. You may confirm my numbers for yourself by following this link (the Sonnets tab at the top of the page). In another post about my sonnet goal, I noted Shakespeare had written 154 sonnets during his lifetime.
In that previous 2013 post, I also mentioned I had 56 sonnets completed. While I know this has never been a competition (Shakespeare being dead and all), I did find it challenging to think I might be able to match (if not in quality, at least in quantity) my total number of sonnet compositions with Shakespeare’s. But in reality, long before one hundred was in sight, I was enjoying the form so much, any notion of competition seemed ridiculous!
Before I began seriously studying the form, I always thought Shakespeare was the undisputed Sonnet Master! Then one day I discovered William Wordsworth had actually exceeded the Bard’s output by a country mile! (Resources I found disagree but it seems Wordsworth wrote more than 400 sonnets … and perhaps as many as 523!)
In general, I’ve composed the majority of my sonnets using the Shakespearean rhyme pattern of abab-cdcd-efef-gg. I’ve tinkered with other patterns, but this one has been my favorite … and I’m kind of set in my ways.
Then one day last week, I got to working on a sonnet that refused to conform to the Shakespearean model. Listening to my muse, I came up with an adapted pattern: abaa-bcbb-cdcc-dd. Since the Shakespearean form is occasionally also referred to as the English form, I decided to call this rhyme pattern the Englark sonnet (combining a shortened English with a shortened Arkansas).
Below is my initial composition.