Revising Sonnets

Recently, Linda Mitchell shared a post about sonnets… which brought back some memories, because I have thought a thing or two about sonnets, in my time. I went hunting through my blog to find my first sonnet, and found … more! So – this Poetry Friday I’m sharing my tumultuous relationship with sonnets, quoting snippets (in italics) of my feelings at the time of the original posts.

My goal for Month of Poetry (MoP12) was to write a sonnet, because in other MoPs participants who had written a sonnet spoke as if they’d climbed Mount Everest. I wasted a day on my first attempt. Tried three different sonnets, on suitably learned topics. Failed. Those five strong beats were a syncopated constipated curse. My frustration bubbled over… (Oops…) and resulted in Sonnet: Finito. 

Sonnet: Finito

Sonnet! Away you evil, vile thing!
Your syncopated rhythm drives me NUTS
so go! No ifs or maybes and no buts…
Be gone! No satisfaction do you bring.

If venerable poets like the Bard
could scribble sonnets neither weak or pallid
then why – when I can write a rhyming ballad –
do I write a sonnet marred and deeply scarred?

Rue the wretched resolution made
before I even knew what I resolved.
Quit. And I am instantly absolved…
Persist and you must all try to dissuade.

But wait! The end is nigh. This sonnet writ;
a travesty of poetry and wit.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

But that wasn’t the end of my sonnets. I wanted to wrangle an emotive issue dear to my heart. And I wanted to conquer that iambic pentameter. Once I got through the obligatory three failed attempts, (to write a sonnet, you must first fail three times and quit – and then…) Sonnet: Money Hungry flowed quite easily – in its syncopated, shuffle-footed style. In fact, I wrote three sonnets during the 2012 Month of Poetry – and then another in the March, when I took part in the first Madness tournament.

Sonnet: The Art of Music

To look its best, the cello lies, composed
within a velvet case – the lid snapped closed.
For if it’s played, the golden glow may wear.
Or worse! Show signs of use beyond repair.

The instrument is like a work of art
plucked from the master craftsman’s wooden heart,
then sanded, buffed and polished ’til it glows
and every fingerprint and blemish shows.

But draw the bow and feel the cello thrum,
feel it rumble heart and soul; a mellow hum
that softens silence, as its echo brings
a warmth and depth that flows from wood and strings.

You haven’t scratched the surface if you keep
your cello, or your talent, buried deep.

© Kathryn Apel 2012

In 2013, I wrote a Sonnet to teach kids about persuasive writing. As you do …

NAPLAN: Persuasion

Persuasion is the act of coaxing you
by reasoned argument, to take my view;
You may have never thought it out before
so let me outline what you can’t ignore.

It’s not enough to simply state the case
without evidence. You never will embrace
my viewpoint; may stay sitting on the fence
or worse – supporting those who cause offence.

Three arguments, at least, must be supported
by facts and quotes, as action is exhorted,
and though you might at first oppose my view
my hope is you’ll soon share the views I do.

I’m persuaded that you have by now conceded,
which means, of course, my argument succeeded.

I will not stoop to bribe, or to extort,
for there are those who’ll say that you’ve been bought!

© Kathryn Apel 2013

Which prompted me to write to the government of the time, lamenting standardised testing … As you do …!

NAPLAN: Persuade Me

Persuade me that we need a NAPLAN test
to take up time that honestly is best
employed in teaching kids, enthusing them
to learn. Not stressing testing to condemn.

No matter how we all try to downplay
the importance (or the lack) of NAPLAN day,
it cannot be denied that kids are stressed
and yet we still expect they’ll do their best?!

Since when has child development been a race?
It’s Differentiation staff embrace.
Is ‘Teacher’ not an occupation anymore?
Now assessment is so much the greater chore?

A living, breathing child is not defined
by numbers, on a band, that tests assigned.

© Kathryn Apel 2013

In fact, I have written a total of eight sonnets. Which makes me think it may be time to try one more…

You’re probably all clamouring to write a sonnet, now, so I’ll share the advice my friend Di Esmond gave when I first tried;

A sonnet is a wonder of control… 12 lines that puts a case or a challenge which is answered by the couplet, a sort of a summation and tying up of loose threads. It must be like a butterfly lighting on a bush, perfectly delicate and dancing.

Read Di’s full explanation and analysis of the simple sonnet.

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Michelle Barnes, at Today’s Little Ditty, where you may not find a sonnet – but you will find lots of poetry goodies! I’d love to know, if you try a sonnet of your own – especially if the rhythm gives you as much trouble as it did me! 🙂


  1. love all of these, Kat – and the thought processes behind. My favourite is the anti-Naplan one – a topic close to my heart. It’s been a while since I tried a sonnet but maybe I shall have a go sometime soon. Or not.


    • There were a few knots in my brain (and shoulders) whilst writing the early sonnets, Michelle. In fact, that’s all I seem to remember initially – not the ease of the later attempts. But I’m glad I got there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bwah ha ha ha ha! Your first sonnet has me in giggles. Those crazy beats and meter and rhymes! If I had KNOWN that you have to try three times and give up (kinda like my love life –long ago) that would have helped, I think. I love the line about the master craftsman’s heart. Beautiful.
    Finally, you’ve convinced me…..I’ve been persuaded. You are not bad at sonnets. These are fun, sweet and sort of cheeky. Well, done! Take a bow.


    • Oh, definitely try three times and fail, first, Linda. That is surely my recipe to ‘success’ – at last! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed. Be sure to let me know when you conquer your own sonnet mountain.


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