Meditation on a Shakespeare Sonnet

by Evelyn Hooven (June 2020)


Portrait of Gertie Schiele, Egon Schiele, 1909
 
 
 
Sonnet 71
 
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
 
 
A Note: Rarely anthologized, almost never quoted, this sonnet’s perspective may in our time be strikingly germane. Neither traditional praise of the immortalizing grandeur of poetry nor an implied narrative, it is an action, an oblique quest for a stance or state of mind before the unabating possibility of death.
 
What follows, in response, is my own poem-meditation. In homage and long-time gratitude, I try it in the Shakespearean idiom of blank verse.
 
 
No Longer Mourn: A Meditation
 
The quatrain-long imperative gives way
To conjecture: the subjunctive mood—
If, perchance, lest it should, perhaps—will prevail.
As the initial thought becomes more sorrow
Than assertion, anxiety shadows
A tentative balance; it is not loss
Of a world vile as its vilest worms,
Cunning in its travesties of mourning,
That stirs anguish, but a protective love
That can neither halt a mourner’s remembrance
Nor mend a process of worldly mockery.
 
At the verge of being withheld, the incomplete
Gesture, doubt, or conjecture make it possible
To consider the appalling peril
Of one’s total, irremediable absence.
What holds until the end is a Presence.
Here the sheer fact of protective love
And the verse, the lines that convey its fealty,
Are the best of offerings—modest, perhaps,
But the closest in a blemished world
To what is lofty, authentic, and pure.
 
 
 
 

______________________________
Evelyn Hooven graduated from Mount Holyoke College and received her M.A. from Yale University, where she also studied at The Yale School of Drama. A member of the Dramatists’ Guild, she has had presentations of her verse dramas at several theatrical venues, including The Maxwell Anderson Playwrights Series in Greenwich, CT (after a state-wide competition) and The Poet’s Theatre in Cambridge, MA (result of a national competition). Her poems and translations from the French have appeared in ART TIMES, Chelsea, The Literary Review, THE SHOp: A Magazine of Poetry (in Ireland), The Tribeca Poetry Review, Vallum (in Montreal), and other journals, and her literary criticism in Oxford University’s Essays in Criticism.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast
 
 
 
Comments
21 Jun 2020
Send an emailMick Sherman
After the first line the blank verse fades pretty fast. It is far less clear than for example in The Woodpile by R. Frost, which is amongst other things about the decay of the iambic pentamater. Your statements are a bit weak. Happy to correspond with you.

21 Jun 2020
James Como
Mr. Sherman puzzles me, and not simply because I regard Hooven's poem far more highly than he. Many moons ago I heard that a certain ballplayer, "X," was "no Lou Gehrig," and I thought, "well, what the hell?" The very invocation of The Iron Horse told me that X, who turned out to be Ted Williams, was . . . yes, close enough. Just so, to depreciate Hooven's pome by invoking . . . Frost . . . is a puzzlement. Sure, there is no disputing taste. But I would say that the poet's verse -- sound, rhythm, imagery, precision -- is artistry of a high sort: for example, the long clause that ends the first stanza is a match for Will himself. Moreover the artistry becomes art by -- I choose my word carefully -- perfecting incarnating the thought, which is movingly absolute. It answers, it counsels, it comforts. This poem (and it is not the only one of Hooven's) is worthy of inclusion in any anthology of English verse.

22 Jun 2020
Send an emailJames Como
Oops: near end of antepenultimate line should read 'perfectly'.

23 Jun 2020
Send an emailMick Sherman
Few poets, if any, can be placed in the same class as Shakespeare. To me this poem contains too many abstractions, and no, it isn't recognisable blank verse.


Pre-order on Amazon or Amazon UK today!


Order at Amazon or Amazon UK.today!

Order at Amazon or Amazon UK


Amazon donates to World Encounter Institute Inc when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2572448. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

Subscribe

Categories

Adam Selene (2) A.J. Caschetta (7) Ahnaf Kalam (2) Alexander Murinson (1) Andrew Harrod (4) Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Bat Ye'or (6) Bill Corden (3) Bradley Betters (1) Brex I Teer (9) Brian of London (32) Carol Sebastian (1) Christina McIntosh (865) Christopher DeGroot (2) Conrad Black (623) Daniel Mallock (5) David J. Baldovin (1) David P. Gontar (7) David Solway (78) David Wemyss (1) Dexter Van Zile (74) Dr. Michael Welner (3) E. B Samuel (1) Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (1) Emmet Scott (1) Eric Rozenman (8) Esmerelda Weatherwax (9807) Fergus Downie (23) Fred Leder (1) Friedrich Hansen (7) G. Murphy Donovan (73) G. Tod Slone (1) Gary Fouse (163) Geert Wilders (13) Geoffrey Botkin (1) Geoffrey Clarfield (330) George Rojas (1) Hannah Rubenstein (3) Hesham Shehab and Anne-Christine Hoff (1) Hossein Khorram (2) Howard Rotberg (16) Hugh Fitzgerald (21219) Ibn Warraq (10) Ilana Freedman (2) James Como (24) James Robbins (1) James Stevens Curl (2) Janice Fiamengo (1) jeffrey burghauser (1) Jenna Wright (1) Jerry Gordon (2517) Jerry Gordon and Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah (3) Jesse Sandoval (1) John Constantine (122) John Hajjar (6) John M. Joyce (392) John Rossomando (1) Jonathan Ferguson (1) Jonathan Hausman (4) Jordan Cope (1) Joseph S. Spoerl (10) Kenneth Francis (2) Kenneth Hanson (1) Kenneth Lasson (1) Kenneth Timmerman (29) Lorna Salzman (9) Louis Rene Beres (37) Manda Zand Ervin (2) Marc Epstein (9) Mark Anthony Signorelli (11) Mark Durie (7) Mark Zaslav (1) Mary Jackson (5065) Matthew Hausman (44) Matthew Stewart (1) Michael Curtis (682) Michael Rechtenwald (26) Mordechai Nisan (2) Moshe Dann (1) NER (2590) New English Review Press (99) Nidra Poller (73) Nikos A. Salingaros (1) Nonie Darwish (10) Norman Berdichevsky (86) Paul Oakley (1) Paul Weston (5) Paula Boddington (1) Peter McGregor (1) Peter McLoughlin (1) Philip Blake (1) Phyllis Chesler (146) Rebecca Bynum (7204) Reg Green (1) Richard Butrick (24) Richard Kostelanetz (16) Richard L. Benkin (21) Richard L. Cravatts (7) Richard L. Rubenstein (44) Robert Harris (85) Sally Ross (36) Sam Bluefarb (1) Samuel Chamberlain (1) Sha’i ben-Tekoa (1) Springtime for Snowflakes (4) Stacey McKenna (1) Stephen Schecter (1) Steve Hecht (29) Ted Belman (8) The Law (90) Theodore Dalrymple (900) Thomas J. Scheff (6) Thomas Ország-Land (3) Tom Harb (4) Tyler Curtis (1) Walid Phares (32) Winfield Myers (1) z - all below inactive (7) z - Ares Demertzis (2) z - Andrew Bostom (74) z - Andy McCarthy (536) z - Artemis Gordon Glidden (881) z - DL Adams (21) z - John Derbyshire (1013) z - Marisol Seibold (26) z - Mark Butterworth (49) z- Robert Bove (1189) zz - Ali Sina (2)
clear
Site Archive