This past week was the week I teach sonnets to my seniors. Sonnets are cool things to teach, because they are universally unpopular things. Kids are inundated with rules--14 lines, 10 syllables, set rhyme schemes, etc.--and forced to wade through the difficult language of Spenser, Sidney and Shakespeare. The kids were groaning by the end of the classes, "Please no more sonnets!"
Until they had to write their own.
I have a funny way of teaching sonnets. I show kids how to count out the syllables by tapping my fingers on my chest (sometimes I use my face). Needless to say, once kids get the hang of banging out syllables, sonnet-writing becomes fun. I wish you could have been in my room on Friday as students were writing. There was so much finger-counting, it looked like a band of first-graders taking an arithmetic test!
One girl, Min, is an immigrant from South Korea. She had resolutely spent three hours hammering out a sonnet. She let me keep her scratch paper--it had so many crossed-out lines and edits, it was a work of art! I'm humbled that any student--even an honors student--would work that hard for me.
Of course I wrote a sonnet, too (I didn't want the kids to have all the fun). I'll include it below. Enjoy:
A Sonnet (for My Bride)
“Your eyes are stars,” I say, as hers eclipse,
Squeezed by eyelids into thin, crescent moons.
“Don’t flatter me,” she says. “My eyes and lips
Are hardly celestial residue.”
I’m stunned. “Well, they are planets then,” I say,
“Glowing with life”—just as her atmospheres
Cloud over. Hurricanes blacken as they
Grow dark—her blue skies now gloomy grey glares.
“I love you,” I add. “No telescope need
Tell me that.” And she with a twinkle says,
“Perhaps these stars would be much more agreed
When viewed up close and not light years away.”
Comets blaze, meteors stream, worlds collide:
My universe revolves around those eyes.