This was my go at Rob’s quick sonnet challenge. In the event it took me about 26 minutes, which isn’t very good considering that the the classic challenge is 15 minutes.
The hiss of pebbles on a shingled beach,
the stranded bladderwrack, the grey
sea-holly, hard against the spray,
the oystercatchers calling each to each.
Where men are afterthoughts,
where cows have never grazed or hedges grown,
where gardens are driftwood and stone,
where ploughs would blunt against the quartz.
It is not cosy here.
It does not feel secure;
we feel some inkling of the ancient fear
in the waves on the shore.
In the grating of stones underfoot we can hear
an opening door.
I quite like the ploughs line and the final image, but the rest is pretty generic.
You’ll notice that it’s metrically a bit peculiar. I did at one point have the first eight lines in IP, but the sestet really wanted to be shorter lines and I just thought wotthehell. And once I’d stopped being metrically regular I went back to the octet and pruned out some bits.
On the occasions when I do sit down to try and write metrical poetry, I increasingly find myself drawn to shorter lines – trimeter, tetrameter – and to changing line lengths. Ballad meter and suchlike (of course even that doesn’t explain the outbreak of anapests at the end). The discursiveness and unmusicality of sustained IP just doesn’t appeal to me at the moment.
Not that IP is inevitably discursive or unmusical but, fairly or not, that’s how I feel about it at the moment.