Today, I challenge you to write a sonnet. Traditionally, sonnets are 14-line poems, with ten syllables per line, written in iambs (i.e., with a meter in which an unstressed syllable is followed by one stressed syllable, and so on). There are several traditional rhyme schemes, including the Petrarchan, Spenserian, and Shakespearean sonnets. But beyond the strictures of form, sonnets usually pose a question of a sort, explore the ideas raised by the question, and then come to a conclusion. In a way, they are essays written in verse! This means you can write a “sonnet” that doesn’t have meet all of the traditional formal elements, but still functions as a mini-essay of a sort. The main point is to keep your poem tight, not rangy, and to use the shorter confines of the form to fuel the poem’s energy. As Wordsworth put it, in a very formal sonnet indeed, “Nuns fret not at their convent’s narrow room.” Happy writing!
What? A dinosaur! Do not be absurd!
Millions of years have past since they roamed!
Me thinks that your vision, it must be blurred!
For every continent has been combed
But I have captured one, it’s in my yard
You expect me to believe that? You fool!
No lie, or my reputation is tarred
Indeed, and open to much ridicule
Come hither, and see for yourself my friend
I shall, but I’m unsure of what I’ll find
This monstrosity you will comprehend
The greatest discovery of mankind
And what will become of this fearsome beast
We will barbecue it for a grand feast