The Time Travelling Poet

Sonnet 1

Photo by makamuki0, Pompeii, Italy

To earth asleep my song arouse afar,

As a birth does bring a wake in ear itself,

And shakes the leaves and shakes down the stars,

So my call can call Pegasus off his shelf,

For my life hath in this line some interest,

Some color conscience garden growth and bud,

Here’s a hilly furrow, a seed’s address,

Now hear a black vine, it’s pushed by blood;

Or if tis fallen on rocky soil, to choke,

To straggle or swone, and tide what betide,

Then as a branch awaits the lightning its bolt,

I’d hold this wand high and boldly abide,

No matter Time, to wait with a weary arm

In arm, so this of me will make or mar.


A Sonnet is a poetic form, wherein the meter is Iambic Pentameter, the stanza 14 lines, the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. This form finds its perfection in the works of W.S. and John Donne. It should be noted that, as the stereotypical form of the ‘Love Poem’ in English, the Sonnet will typically address his/her work to his/her Lover, or to Love herself.

I don’t indeed know who wrote this Sonnet. For this particular etching was found in the gutter of Pompeii, crystallized. And so I began to investigate it.

The Poem seems to be addressed to itself, thus making an idol of Love’s idol. Whether this is an improvement upon the glorification of a Person, or an Abstraction, as in Donne’s ‘Holy Sonnets’, remains to the judgements of the remembrance of things past.

I performed a simple scansion of the above lines, I found standard iambics in most, elisions in some, trochees in others, spondees, mid-line breaks, all maintained and sustained by the single ‘sentence’ which maintains itself quite interestingly until the interesting exclamation point which does exclaim itself.

The couplet upon the tail has its simplicity, not without its irony, as the action it implies – holding one’s arms up to be struck by lightning – is also disrupted by the lack of a perfect rhyme, a slant to anagram the endings, so I find it interesting and suggestive of a partial failure of the desire, perhaps.

I would encourage the Reader to perform his/her own scansion for here the meter is the meaning, the meaning the meter – as in the best it is.

Considering this, and the English, I do not think the author a Pompeian, but a rather heart-broken Time Traveler, who intentionally scatters his/her verses among the timeline, as Orlando upon the Arden trees, with an object of wooing not a rosy Paramour, but rather, that rarest of all things, an Audience.

And so I wish him/her earnest luck in his/her endeavor.

Cheers to your Sunday morning…

J Christian

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