Singing through Sonnets

How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

After reading this poem, a pure expression of a love we hope to one day find, I was moved to write my own sonnet.  Although Browning’s poem is written as a Petrarchan sonnet, which has 14 lines with 5 iambs per line and an ABBA ABBA CDC DCD rhyme scheme,  after attempting to follow this form, I decided to try the Spenserian sonnet.  This type of sonnet has 14 lines with 5 iambs per line and an ABAB BCBC CDCD EE rhyme scheme.  What I found was that this is incredibly difficult to do.  I not only had to write a poem, with the message I wanted to convey,  but I also had to make the words rhyme and keep count of the stressed and unstressed syllables.

Here is my attempt at the Spenserian sonnet…

Dreaming for Answers

Silently drifting farther and deeper,

My mind reaches and clings onto the past.

It stores away tiny sparks, the keeper,

Whose collections are so bitter and vast.

It delves into fantasies, exploring,

Hidden wishes in the dark of the night.

Shadows of death, I begin imploring,

What do visions mean and what is my plight?

My mind grows weary and begins to stray.

At last, it starts to dance around new love,

Bringing smiles, laughter, and hopes to play.

Why does this concept seem to climb above,

The darkest of thoughts and lay them to rest?

Maybe love is a dream, which proves the best.

-Stephanie Montalti

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