One Good Sonnet

One Good Sonnet


” . . . When [Jane] was only fifteen, there was a man at my brother Gardiner’s in town so much in love with her that my sister-in-law was sure he would make her an offer before we came away. But, however, he did not. Perhaps he thought her too young. However, he wrote some verses on her, and very pretty they were.”

“And so ended his affection,” said Elizabeth impatiently. “There has been many a one, I fancy, overcome in the same way. I wonder who first discovered the efficacy of poetry in driving away love!”

“I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,” said Darcy.

“Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. Everything nourishes what is strong already. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.”

Pride and Prejudice

Above is the quote that served as inspiration for me and Jann Rowland with regard to our One Good Sonnet Publishing imprint.  The logo, which intermingles music and poetry, was created by Jann’s sister, and I’m rather fond of it.

I much prefer writing poetry to reading it, and the types of poems I prefer to read are often poems that tell a story, like “The Ancient Mariner,” or that have a certain musicality to them. For instance, I will always love the line “And dances with the daffodils” from “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

Jane Austen was obviously familiar with sonnets, and she does not appear to be particularly fond of them if one views Elizabeth Bennet as mouth-piece of sorts for her. (A dangerous thing to do at times, I suppose!) Regardless, the brevity of sonnets and their formal structure make them relatively easy to read at one sitting, and I am certain many lovers in the past were fond of them, even if you will likely not find many such people nowadays expressing such a fondness!

For those of you a bit rusty on poetry forms, a sonnet has fourteen lines and is often written in iambic pentameter – an iam being one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, and “pentameter” indicating there are five iambs in a line. So, from one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, you can see the five iambs (with the bolded bits being the stressed syllables):

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

There are different types of sonnets, and a Shakespearean sonnet more specifically has a typical rhyme scene set up in a specific way. Generally, the scheme is abab cdcd efef gg. Whether or not Austen was sick of lovers’ pale imitations of Shakespeare, I figured I would go ahead and try my hand at crafting a Pride and Prejudice sonnet, and so here we go:

When our Lizzy proud Darcy did insult,
She smiled and shook her head at his vain guise.
But as he watched her laugh, he did consult
His heart and was ensnared by her fine eyes.
But Lizzy faced trouble before love sparked–
A suitor of kind face and blackened soul,
A fool of a cousin, a matriarch
E’er obsessed with family and control.
Despite proposing unsuccessfully,
Darcy managed to regain his footing.
Lizzy was swayed, as if t’were destiny–
The sight of him no more was off-putting.
Thus Pride and Prejudice to Love did cave,
And Enmity did meet an early grave.

I’m by no means a poetic genius, but I will say that if you wish to try your hand at rhyming poetry, there are two things I would recommend:

  1. Make good use of enjambment–if every line has a comma or period after it, the poem is weaker. It’s better to have some of the lines continue the thought/sentence on to the next (above, for instance, I used enjambment to say “he did consult / his heart”).
  2. Beware the easy rhymes. Don’t just use a rhyme because it works. Use a rhyming website to check out different possible rhymes, and if none of them say exactly what you want to say without being trite (I discarded “cold as ice” for Wickham), then change the word(s) you were using. For instance, I wanted a rhyme for “matriarch,” and I could have tried to manipulate what I was saying to use the word “mark” as a rhyme, but it just wouldn’t say what I wanted it to, so I used the slant rhyme “sparked” instead.

A full sonnet might take too long to work on, but would anyone care to try their hand at a Jane Austen quatrain (four lines)? I would love to see them!

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October 24, 2021 3:53 PM

Sometimes shorter poems are harder than long ones! I once used to specialise in writing personalised greetings for friends’ cards but I’m totally out of practice now! However I’ll give it a try.

Darcy was sad for his sister
Upset as he really missed her
His friend then demanded he dance
Alas he said “Her? Not a chance!”

Apologies for the quality!

Caryl Kane
Caryl Kane
October 24, 2021 3:44 PM

I’m all astonishment! Thank you for sharing.

Mirta Ines Trupp
Mirta Ines Trupp (@mirtainestrupp)
October 24, 2021 12:59 PM

Thoroughly impressed! Very enlightening post!

Linny B
Linny B
October 21, 2021 11:45 PM

Lovely poem! Thank you for sharing.

Kirstin Odegaard
Kirstin Odegaard (@kirstinodegaard)
October 21, 2021 11:19 PM

Wonderful poem! I loved the unique rhymes, like “eyes” and “guise” and “footing” and “off-putting.”

cindie snyder
cindie snyder
October 21, 2021 6:19 PM

I am not a poet but your poem was very good! We used to do Haiku when I was in school but I wasn’t the best at that either!lol

Riana Everly
Riana Everly (@rianaeverly)
October 21, 2021 5:39 PM

That was super!

I am certainly no poet, as my past efforts have shown all too clearly. But I can sometimes get out a limerick or a haiku. Let’s see…

in Hunsford Miss Lizzy did tarry
With the cousin her good friend did marry.
Then her old foe did come
And disturbed her quite some
With discussions she gladly did parry.

Horse hooves on the path
At the door, a visitor
Bingley has returned

October 21, 2021 7:00 AM

I enjoyed reading your poem and look forward to reading what other more talented commenters post. I decided not to embarrass myself as I’m definitely not a poet.

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