Ars Poetica for Shaky Times
      (Apologies to Auden and Horace)

This little poem is in sonnet form;
a poet will need support from the past:
the best way to find it will be at last
to compose within a poetic norm –

limited available words will swarm
to the surface and will leave you aghast –
the poverty of English is unjust!
Though today we think slant rhymes do no harm.

In spite of which, here poets can wrestle
with their predecessors, while tradition
conjoins those on the same expedition,
same genre, in the same sacred vessel

of holy poetry, and hold support
in match after match with every effort.


A Prayer

May my inner self come out and play free,
either dancing or retreating within,
not trapped on, nor out of, the social sea.

I think I’ve screwed up since Eve’s Sacred Tree
revealed the difference between good and sin:
may my inner self come out and play free,

to gambol among the others like me,
who long ago knew they were forgiven
and skip in and out of themselves bravely.

As Christians, Buddhists, Taoists will agree
we all need to practice meditation:
may my inner self come out and play free,

rising like incense to God and Beauty
in highest realms of every one’s heaven,
not trapped on, nor out of, the social sea.

O highest God, may You, and may we, be
the many, many who have become One!
May my inner self come out and play free,
not trapped on, nor out of, the social sea.


These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

Robert Sonkowsky is a poet, free-lance actor, and Classics & Theater Professor Emeritus.  He has written and performed poetry since the second grade.  He has published two books of poetry: UNSOUND SCIENCE ISBN 978-1-4500-0752-8 and WAVERLY SONGS ISBN 978-1-4697-9169-2, with individual poems in some on-line and print publications.   He regularly recites new poems before the North Oaks, Minnesota, Poets and Writers group.  For details see Wikipedia, his agent, his U. of Minnesota resume, or just Google him; for samples, both print and audio see and

NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.