Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Rose Not Stone ~ A 'Backward' Sonnet

Last month, poet Donna Vorreyer at Put Words Together. Make Meaning posted an invitation to write a "turned around" or "backward" sonnet. Her prompt required placing the rhyming words at the beginnings of lines, instead of at the ends, but otherwise maintaining the sonnet's structure and syllabic form. As Vorreyer points out, the exercise "messes with your head a little bit to have to rhyme first words" and also helps the poem lose "sing-songy-ness".

This was my first attempt to write a sonnet (it's a revision of what I originally left in the comments section of Vorreyer's blog); my second effort, "Love Matters", is here and was followed by "A Naked Eye Turned Inward", posted here.

A Rose Not Stone ~ A Backward Sonnet

Stones newly placed but worn make room for weeds
To grow between them, I alone to mourn.
Bones blessed, left safe below the crush of grass,
Do rest, in time my own their space to share.
This plot, a turn of earth to ash made white,
Marks absent that face that on this eve no
Kiss restores to sight and I, who loved, keen
Larks' joy in flight yet fail to sing sun's rise.
Song, redress my fear now, forbid me close
My eyes to you whose soft gaze I must most
Long for still. But yours, closed, return not mine.
I place a rose, not stone, my heart it is.

        May's brilliant red my flower color-codes;
        Days so long without you must seasons bear.

© 2011 Maureen E. Doallas

My recording of the backward sonnet:

 Audio Recording of A Rose Not Stone ~ A Backward Sonnet by mdoallas


Ruth said...

Intriguing, Maureen. It's fun to get a surprise like this, a twist of form. When I hear it aloud, the cadence is lovely, the rhymes do not sound apparent. So it's a fun form, and must be quite interesting to create, and the result is quite sonnet-like, even without the end-rhyme.

L.L. Barkat said...

Fascinating adjustment. I think it has the effect of producing the slightest stop at the beginning of the lines. Not sure why, but it does, making the whole thing more staccato or one-step-forward-two-steps-back feeling. :)

Hey, on a different note, I wonder if you've considered coming to the Laity Lodge Writer's retreat? I don't know if Julia Kasdorf still has room in her poetry section, but I think you'd enjoy it :)

Louise Gallagher said...

Loved listening to you read it. It's a wonderful format -- and I like the fact it doesn't have the sing-songey tone.

Move over William!

annell4 said...

The most beautiful backwards sonnet I have ever read! You are smarter than the average bear! Thank you so much! Another blessing in a very blessed day!

the sad red earth said...

Very interesting. Of course, enjambment and reading accordingly will avoid any sing-song in end rhymes, but this form offers whole new possibilities for emphatic accent - and playing away from it - through the use of enjambment, end-stopped lines and other techniques. I admire you willingness, always, to explore and experiment. (A lovely voice, too, by the way.)

S. Etole said...

This has a soothing quality that is enhanced by your voice.

Kathleen said...

Wow, this is really neat!--both the form variation and hearing you read it. I hope Donna comes to hear it, too!

Hannah Stephenson said...

OOH!! I will have to try this. I have never heard of this before---it would be tricky, I think.

Anonymous said...


Megan Willome said...

What a neat idea! Well done.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Such touching verse, Maureen. How many minutes have I been pondering this now?

And the structure is fascinating. I'll keep it in mind for when my next poetical mood strikes.