No 500 Words On… today as I was up late last night finishing a review for LitReactor on a great hybrid novel called The Stonehenge Letters by Harry Karlinsky. It was published by the same press that put out Broom Broom by Brecken Hancock, Coach House Books; they’re two for two so far. It’s a great book, a creative nonfiction work about a historical event that didn’t actually happen. You should check it out.
My poem for today is my second favorite ever written and the first that I ever memorized. It sums up fairly succinctly how I feel about love and writing and love in writing, which is pretty good for something that was written over 400 years ago. The language is a bit dated, but not so much as to be inaccessible, and it possesses that rare quality that I love in a poem with a high concept and clear imagery: it’s short. I found this poem randomly while flipping through my high school English book—it wasn’t even part of the curriculum, those jerks!—and although I had been writing poetry for years, this was the first poem that made me think that maybe I could BE a poet (like a real one, not a LiveJournal whiner). Anyway, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, do, and probably always will.
Sonnet LXXV (75) by Edmund Spenser
One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Agayne I wrote it with a second hand,
But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.
“Vayne man,” sayd she, “that doest in vaine assay.
A mortall thing so to immortalize,
For I my selve shall lyke to this decay,
and eek my name bee wyped out lykewize.”
“Not so,” quod I, “let baser things devize,
To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens wryte your glorious name.
Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”