The constancy of change is to be wished;
To find a partner and to settle down,
To build a life, where new routines exist,
To memorize her breathing, in and out.

These all seem like regression to the mean,
And you may think it looks boring as sin,
But only once you settle on a scene,
Can change cease from without, and start within.

For in her arms, then I am truly free;
And bathing in her warmth, unlace my suture,
Then I confront all that is worst in me,
To both accept the past and fix the future.

We fight the war so that we might come home,
And grow the skin back over exposéd bone.


Edward Hoke studies Acting and Classics at Northwestern University. For weekly poetry-based posts and photos, follow on instagram at @blandmagyar

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58 Responses

  1. William Krusch

    This is fine, Edward – I really enjoyed this sonnet. “Constancy of change” is a brilliant opening – the quasi-paradoxical effect works so well. Lines 9 and 10, and really the entire third quatrain, are wonderful; the language is passionate, yet it possesses a calm, mature control. The metaphor you develop with “suture” which carries over to the final line of the couplet is excellent. The terminal assonance of the couplet works well, especially as the “n” in “bone” provides an unexpected grounding after the softer “home” – it is almost a deceptive cadence, and yet it still provides resolution. The ending of the fourth movement of Schubert’s Fantasie in F Minor (D. 940) achieves a similar effect, and your poem couldn’t help but remind me of it.

  2. C.B. Anderson

    I must voice my disagreement with the comments above. This attempt at a sonnet failed in almost every element, but I won’t bore you with the details, unless you insist. Am I supposed to think that “down” rhymes with “out?” Or that lines 7 &8 approach anything like decent punctuation and grammar? Egads, this is and incondite muddle. Only line 11 rings true: Confront what is worst in you.

    • Edward Hoke

      Dear CB.

      Thank you for your feedback! I assume you are a poet yourself, so I just wanted to respond to your critique regarding “down” and “out”. For that, I would refer you to what is called a “slant rhyme”, popularized by many poets of today. Heres a link to a video of Marshall Mathers explaining further.

      • Charlie Southerland

        Dear Mr. Hoke-

        I would like to take a shot at your premise to establishing slant rhyme in a poem.

        Indeed, your first stanza shows an effort to establish slant rhyme. As most writers of formal poetry know, it is the first stanza that establishes meter, rhyme, and scansion. It is long held tradition that patterning a poem begins right there.

        Since you established a pattern, somewhat, of those things that make a good formal poem, why did you break tradition and patterning by using perfect rhymes throughout the remainder of the stanzas? Why are your patterns so unregulated or unorganized, including your use of substitutions, if that was your intent?

        As I and others have observed, L9 is not a coherent line and it skews the entire poem to its own detriment.

        Surely, you can see and agree with this assessment. Your use of You Tube’s M&M deep study of how to rhyme with orange is indefensible.

        Try going to: The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics for guidance and correct instruction. It is an invaluable resource that I highly advise for any poet who is serious about craft include in his/her library.

  3. Joe Quintanilla

    I have come to enjoy the comments here, the specific praise AND criticism, as much as the poetry itself. I read the poetry then return again and again for the comments. When specific praise is given I re-read the poem with that comment in mind and likewise the criticism. VERY insightful!

    • C.B. Anderson

      Just so, Joe.

      But please remember that positive and negative comments are both criticism. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of whether the plus or the minus is most truthful.

  4. Evan Mantyk

    Dear Mr. Hoke,

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful poem!

    I think it a worthy poem based firstly on its call for morality (getting married) from a young poet, when so many youth his age won’t dare marriage and instead prefer the immoral and dangerous route of having many partners. The iambic pentameter is also well executed.

    I suspect that Mr. Hoke is a student of Shakespeare’s sonnets. As with Shakespeare, there can be slight breakdowns of the rhyme and a muddle, as Mr. Anderson puts it, of the meaning. Does the change referred to at the beginning have to do with changing partners, a practice which is being turned away from, or does it mean the change of lifestyle to getting married? A whole category of poems submitted to me fall into this Shakespearean muddle. Mr. Hoke has at least partially succeeded where others have failed. And don’t worry, Mr. Hoke, there are much worse muddles to be in!

    Keep up the good writing.

  5. Charlie Southerland

    Dear Mr. Hoke,

    C.B. is right.

    What’s worse though is the train wreck you’ve constructed in L9. Beginning a line in any poem with two consecutive prepositions usually rings the death knell of that poem and the purpose for the poem. It/they literally stop the progression the author intended. Many of the so-called “contemporary classicists” continually make this mistake regarding grammar. It is another blatant sign of either lazy writing, or lack of ability to clearly construct a line for effect. If your intention to pen a poem in 19th century language, then do so. If not, don’t try mixing the centuries of Shakespearean, Elizabethan, or Victorian together with millennial formal work. It doesn’t fly. It doesn’t even hatch. Learn the craft. Learn the craft. Learn the craft. Geez.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Thanks, Charlie.

      Someday I would like to go fishin’ with you. But I wonder: How come they speak good English down south but not hardly nowhere else?

      • Charlie Southerland

        C.B. I force my slaves to write proper English on the chalkboard at least one hunnerd times. And then, under threat of physical violence, I compel them to annunciate their poems at least a hunnerd times so that those with cleft palates get it right. I could run North Korea…

      • Charlie Southerland

        Seriously, C.B., I have trained the fish in my ponds to swim into the dip net. No need for poles. We have a few lakes down here to bass fish in. Come on.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Mr. Sutherland, Regarding your critique of L9 as having “two consecutive prepositions,” I am curious as to whether you would find “Thus in . . . ,” “When in . . . ,” and/or “Then in . . . ,” to be acceptable alternatives (notwithstanding their respective grammatical awkwardness). And while I agree that the rhymes in L2 & 4 are too far removed for my taste and comfort zone, I found the poem to be effective and well-constructed. Thank you, Mr. Hoke, for sharing your work with us. I look forward to more in the future.

      • C.B. Anderson


        Though I respect you, light and sweetness do not an adequate criticism make. One must cut to the pith and the core. Forgiveness benefits the guilty more than the innocent.

      • James A. Tweedie

        C.B., Surely, you do not hold every writer to the same standards of perfection? A novice is to be critiqued according to their ability and experience. A journeyman to a higher standard, and so on. While we all aim for perfection, few, if any, ever reach it. l found much to appreciate in Mr. Hoke’s poem. If it is “light and sweetness” for me to say so, then I shall be happy to accept the label. You have, of course, the freedom to critique and comment on any poem any way you wish, but, then again, so do I. As always, I look forward to your comments and critiques of my own submissions.

  6. Beau Lecsi Werd

    Okay, let’s cut to the “chase”.

    from “King Lear”, Act I:

    Let it be so! thy truth then be thy dower!
    For by the sacred radiance of the sun…

    from “Hamlet”, Act III:

    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…

    from “Macbeth” Act I:

    The prince of Cumberland! That is a step
    On which I must fall down or else o’erleap,
    For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
    Let light not see my black and deep desires.
    The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be,
    Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.

    I include the aside from “Macbeth” to note the opening rhyme, the two prepositions at the beginning of a line, the metrical variance in the last line, and the overall monosyllabic brilliance of William Shakespeare, so frequently appearing throughout his poetic dramas.

    • C.B. Anderson

      “For” in this construction is not a preposition but a conjunction, meaning “because” or “seeing that.”

      • Beau Lecsi Werd

        My thought exactly. And is that not the meaning of “for” in Mr. Hoke’s line as well: “For in her arms, then I am truly free…” as “for” conjoins the sentiments before? However, for me, that’s not the rub.

  7. Charlie Southerland

    Dear Mr. Wise,

    One may pen a poem in Elizabethan English. For that is the way they spoke, capiche? One may speak and write in contemporary English. Habla? But if one endeavors to mix language differences, it then becomes an unintended parody, unless of course, parody is what the writer intended all along.

    If one has the education and the sense of language one is comfortable with, one can succeed with the parody and everyone will know it and say “Well done, Sir! (or Ma’am)

    There are few that are published on this site that are able to pull this off. It is pure unadulterated ignorant hubris for unqualified folks to attempt, but attempt they do.

    I have yet to see the intended parody of mixing dialectical, millennial language.

    To answer your question, Mr. Tweedie, no.

    The underlying problem endemic to SCP is that SCP wishes to receive work that is classical or neo-classical. Contemporary or Post-Modernist work is not as desirable, yet few know how to pen classical poems. There is confusion here in the ranks. Methinks there is no way forward.

  8. James A. Tweedie

    Mr. Sutherland, I have read where it was not unusual for Elizabethan courtiers to converse in pentameter. Perhaps the SCP could make that a requirement for those submitting comments, thereby separating the qualified wheat from the unqualified chaff. I fear that there will, indeed, be no way forward for this site if it is to be limited only to the few who already know how to pen classical poems. Personally, although I am making every effort to improve my classical poetic skill, I have not yet come anywhere close to mastering it. I must, therefor–as one of the unqualified folks–confess to being guilty of possessing pure unadulterated ignorant hubris for daring to make the attempt.

  9. C.B. Anderson

    Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub. Fond sentiments do not a good poem make, and therein lies the true rub.

  10. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. We owe a debt of gratitude for Mr. Anderson’s and Mr. Southerland’s remarks. They keep the writers here alert. Although at times I wish that they (and I) would follow their (and my) own admonitions as well. I am reminded of Portia’s lines in “Merchant of Venice”:

    “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine who follows his own instructions: I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done, than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching. The brain may devise laws for the blood, but a hot temper leaps o’er a cold decree: such a hare is madness the youth, to skip o’er the meshes of good counsel the cripple.”

    So often Shakespeare’s prose amazes me, even as his poetry does.

    2. Mr. Southerland brings up serious points about writing. He is offended by mixing, not so much language differences, I think, but historical styles. Here I must say I disagree with such a blanket argument; for that would exclude poems, like Mr. MacKenzie’s “Letter to England”, where the language of Dryden and Shakespeare are freely utilized with modern expression, and not in a parody. [And nearly all of the sonnets written on this site, and elsewhere.] But I would go even further; I’m quite content in accepting archaic language, as in Spenser or Coleridge, or even foreign languages, as in Shakespeare, Eliot, or Pound. Such intermixing can be illuminating—if often not entirely successful.

    3. I have to admit I’m not sure what Mr. Southerland means when he says “The underlying problem endemic to SCP is that SCP wishes to receive work that is classical or neoclassical.” I think I’m confused by the anthropomorphizing of SCP.

    He goes on to say, “Contemporary or Post-Modernist work is not as desirable, yet few know how to pen classical poems. There is confusion in the ranks.” Here I think I am in total agreement with him; but I don’t know; I wish he could be more clear about what he means.

    And then he adds, “Methinks there is no way forward.” This is the most serious accusation for all of us—the whole New Millennium. Where, and how, can this generation “advance” the flow of English language literature? This is not an idle question—it is paramount. But I must admit that we go about this in different ways. I know I’m going down a path no one here is following; just as I realize Mr. Southerland is taking an alternate path himself. I wish he could do something unique with sapphics; but that would require such an enormous talent—maybe there is no way forward there. If there is, I would gladly embrace such.

    4. I personally am constantly frustrated with my poetic line as well, though I feel like I’m going forward, and I am advancing in certain areas and ways; yet there is so much to be done. I could despair if I dared yield to such horrible imaginings—as Shakespeare’s Macbeth did himself. But I will not (though I wonder if I did what I would gain).

    Anyway, I hope Mr. Southerland, and others here, and others elsewhere, all across the English-speaking world, will continue to work on the prose and poetry of the English language.

    • C.B. Anderson

      That’s not a bad way to end this discussion, but we’ll have to see what Charlie says.

  11. Charlie Southerland

    Dear Mr. Tweedie,

    I am not a Classicist writer. I am a Formalist, perhaps a New Formalist if labels are to be attached. If I decided to study classical poetry and language, I’m certain I would be proficient writing that type of poem. It bores the hell out of me though. I much prefer conversational formalism. I never run into anyone here in the States who speaks the, (get this) Elizabethan King’s English. I know a few people who parody English that way and it is funny as hell. Back in the day, a good many English Londoners did speak in IP, but they worked at it. Iambic Tetrameter and Iambic Pentameter is pretty darn close to our normal speech patterns anyway. Read some Faulkner. I have no intention of starting an Inquisition over language. There are many examples of poets and poetesses here attempting to write classical work but they can’t pull it off.

    McKenzie can do it. Dr. Salemi and Count Yankevich can do it. Perhaps, C.B. Anderson. That’s about it. It ain’t my bag, brother, so I enjoy writing other ways that are comfortable for me.

    I have a Spenserian sonnet coming out in Blue Unicorn one of these days. I absolutely love the form for its opportunity to make sound into an orchestra. As Mr. Wise has alluded to, I am on the Sapphic warpath. I may never write a great Sapphic poem but it won’t be because I haven’t immersed myself in the mechanics of the form. It’s beautiful when the right words are in place. The Greeks had it right. Quantitative verse was meant for oratory. Long and short sounds are paramount to the ear.

    Mr. Tweedie, again. It is not your attempts which frustrate me so. It is your lack of study. Once you have the mechanics of formal poetry down, attempts are well more likely to be successful and memorable. Tilting should be effortless, don’t you think?

  12. James A. Tweedie

    Mr. Sutherland, If by tilting you mean knocking the other person off of their horse, then I should think that would take a great deal of effort! And you are correct in emphasizing the mechanics of formal poetry. After all, writing a four line haiku is simply not going to be successful regardless of how eloquently the sentiment is expressed. To a great degree (at least as regards the formal poetry this site seeks to promote) McLuhan’s aphorism is entirely correct: The medium is the message.

    I am not quite sure what you mean by “lack of study.” I am not aware of any formal poetic submissions I have made that reflect that conclusion although I would be happy if you were to identify them. I also confess to being somewhat of a “renaissance man” in that my interests (especially in the arts) are both wide and broad. In poetry, as in my other areas of interest, I seek competence and a growing depth of understanding and appreciation rather than mastery. I am happy to leave that to others, such as yourself. I do not claim to be a teacher–only a student who never tires of finding delight and joy in all that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy, or beautiful.

    As a postscript I understand that the term “classical poetry” has a dual meaning, both in its reference to the poetry of ancient Greece and Rome as well as its more popular reference to the span of Western poetry (particularly, but not limited to the English language) from (roughly) Spenser through either shortly before or shortly after Tennyson. This, it seems to me, allows for a great deal of wiggle room when it comes to poetic form. Personally, I see nothing wrong with couching a Spencerian sonnet in 21st century colloquial language, nor do I believe that I need to imitate the vocabulary of Shakespeare to write a sonnet in the form he preferred. As you say, getting the mechanics and the form straight is, in the end, what will make it a classical poem instead of something less than a cigar.

  13. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. “There are many poets and poetesses here attempting to write classical work but they can’t pull it off.” Certainly Mr. Southerland can appreciate that writers are at different points in their careers.

    2. “Read some Faulkner.” Though I personally would not recommend reading Faulkner; I remember, when 18, 19 & 20, plowing though short stories, like “Barn Burning” and novels, like “Absalom, Absalom!” my first, and others, like “The Sound and the Fury” and “As I Lay Dying”, and deriving a vibrant intensity from their language; though paling in comparison with Shakespeare’s plays; “The Hamlet” not supplanting “Hamlet”, nor “The Sound and the Fury” supplanting “Macbeth”. Still, Faulkner’s lengthy sentences and his brief moments of clarity are a part of the richness of Modernist writing in English, particularly in the British Isles and the USA, which moved far beyond the realms of Elizabethan poetry and prose.

    3. I must admit that Mr. Southerland’s “classical coterie” is definitely not mine. In fact, I find Mr. Southerland’s “classicism”, that is, his use of older poetic forms rather more engaging: his Spenserian “By Degrees”, his Keatsian sonnet sequence “Cooking Ribs With Charlie”, the Whitmanic hexametres of “Bill Cock and Jenny Wren”, his “In J. C. Larson’s Pasture,” a combination of Gray and Crabbe, his comic French piece “O’ Naturel” and the extravagant sapphics of his “Caught Up in a Silk Tornado Cloud”, which seems more like Wilbur and Whitman on the “Sapphic warpath” than Sappho.

    4. His sense of long and short sounds being “paramount to the ear” also throws him in to the “Classical Camp”. If I had to recommend anyone to read, I would recommend him, partly for his humour, which follows Twain, his polemical style, similar to Salemi’s, and the attributes I like the most, his striving after a “conversational formalism”, and his willingness to take on a plethora of topics.

    • Charlie Southerland


      the reason I mentioned Faulkner was (briefly) that his lines, many of them, are musical. He plays with sound to keep the reader’s attention. I admire his ability and his vast knowledge of the vocabulary. That said, many find his work boring, overwrought. In that respect, I somewhat agree.

      Shakespeare’s Hamlet is my favorite work by the Bard. His timing is impeccable. The “line” really means something to him. I think Shakespeare was an alien.

      I’m flattered that you liked “Cooking Ribs With Charlie”. I was a professional rib cook back a lot of years ago. If you follow my instructions, you can’t mess up a slab of ribs. The poetry editor of The Raven Chronicles lives a couple hours away from me.

      My desire is that no one can put a finger on any particular style that I write in. I don’t bemoan my lack of education regarding poetics. I get it wrong sometimes. I read a lot of poetry. I write about everything, didn’t realize anyone was paying attention.

      • Lew Icarus Bede

        Actually, I think your style is pretty straight forward. It is lush, concentrated—no matter what “classical” form you choose to use. It is like that of Keats, but modern. I like it more than, say, Salemi’s or MacKenzie’s, because your energy overflows and enriches your lines; though it’s not at all what I am striving for, or for that matter Frederick Turner, say. However, the power of your sapphics, as distant as they are from Horace’s, and Sappho’s, are exciting to me; because, despite their flaws, they carry the baggage of American literature—and that is fun for me—and rare in the New Millennium.

  14. Amy Foreman

    “If I decided to study classical poetry and language, I’m certain I would be proficient writing that type of poem. . . . There are many examples of poets and poetesses here attempting to write classical work but they can’t pull it off. McKenzie can do it. Dr. Salemi and Count Yankevich can do it. Perhaps, C.B. Anderson. That’s about it.” (Charlie Southerland)

    One might be tempted to take the P.R. poets and their view of the world seriously, but they are already doing a most thorough and diligent job of it themselves . . . 😉

    • Charlie Southerland

      Geez, Amy, now you’ve went and stepped in it.

      All is folly, saith the preacher. Ecclesiastes. (I think)

      I take craft seriously. What I said was true because to be good at it takes study and practice. SO, when I see lack of craft, undisciplined lines or poor usage (continuously) my blood boils because most everyone has a keyboard at their fingertips. Why submit unpolished work to an editor? Yet, there you go. You might get bored with a Double Quarter-pounder and fries, but at least the food is edible and formulaic. Successful. Billions and billions served. Writing “Classical” formal poetry cries out for perfect form for it to be successful. Handing me your uncooked poem has a rancid taste to it. It’s one thing to be a beginner or novice, it’s another thing to have a degree in English and still not be able to write your way out of a whiskey barrel. The nakedness of it is stark.

      If you knew the editing process at the Pennsylvania Review, you would be shocked, shocked, I tell you. This much I do know, the editor doesn’t give a rat’s ass whether you take him seriously or not. He cares about the craft and sense of a poem, regardless of one’s “World view”. The same goes at Trinacria. Those knees won’t bow to mediocrity. That’s good company to keep, Amy.

      • Amy Foreman

        I’m sure it is good company, Charlie. And you are welcome to keep it. 🙂

  15. William Krusch

    At the risk of sounding uncouth and being accused of self-advertising, I would like to remark that there do exist some young poets on SCP who spend weeks and months polishing their works, but unfortunately they go virtually unnoticed even when featured on the front page because others are too busy quibbling. What frustrates me so much about this site is that there is so much fighting between contributors over the merit of young poets’ works; they are young! They have only been writing for a mere fraction of the time most of the other writers on this site have been writing. Yes, some works may be unpolished and imperfect, but for the love of the Muses, I would rather see people of my generation submit a sonnet or a ballade or any piece that possesses formal structure than see them writing logorrheatic free verse over at The New Yorker or The New England Review. The craft has not been perfected yet, but at least they are trying! I am not advocating a lowering of artistic standards by any means, but these people have to start somewhere. Keats or Shelley or any other great poet were not instantly the best at their craft after writing for perhaps only a few months or a year – it takes years of assiduous study to hone one’s style, and while one’s work may not be perfect now, that does not mean that in three years they won’t be writing works worthy of a spot in the poetic pantheon if they have worked for it. They will get there – geez. Enough quibbling already. Provide the necessary feedback and wish them luck, and be done with it. Time will decide which works are the greatest, not some commentators squabbling 30 comments deep on some random poem on SCP.

    • Joe Quintanilla

      Wouldn’t a less seasoned poet benefit from the criticism of those more seasoned? IMHO, part of the problem is less seasoned poets being too quick to take offense and defend their work. Also, if you tire of the quibbling, why add to it?

    • Charlie Southerland

      Dear Mr. Krusch-

      I can assure you that you and other young poets are not going unnoticed.

      • William Krusch

        Yes, and perhaps I will have the spectacular fortune to end up in a poll on another website you referenced in an earlier comment… Perhaps Connor Rosemond (or Mr. Ruleman, should he decide to reveal his persona I suspect – “precious C. R.”) will be my counterpart… Let us play our masquerade. Yes, yes -perhaps this time I’ll go as Ludwig II of Bavaria and cry “Ein ewig Rätsel will ich bleiben mir und anderen.”

    • Amy Foreman

      “I would rather see people of my generation submit a sonnet or a ballade or any piece that possesses formal structure than see them writing logorrheatic free verse over at The New Yorker or The New England Review. ” (William Krusch)

      Well put, William.

  16. Evan Mantyk

    Dear Mr. Krusch,

    Thank you for the excellent point! If we older poets seem like a peanut gallery of curmudgeons, don’t be phased. Just keep striving for work of good character and form. The slow and steady tortoise will win the day.

    No need to go on a masquerade. The Society does, or at least will, discourage pseudonyms. The only exception perhaps being Bruce Dale Wise who makes a humorous art of his revolving and multitudinous anagrammatic pseudonyms.

    • Bruce Dale Wise

      Unlike George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), and George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) and so, so many others, and also unlike Fernando António Noguiera Pessoa, who created dozens of heteronyms, my charichords (anagrammatic heteronyms) are merely the letters of my name rearranged—my name is always there, just looked at differently.

      With a degree in Math-Computer Science, it should not be surprising that I am interested in permutations, which appear all over the place in mathematics, as in combinatorics, or in computer science, as in sorting algorithms.

      When I studied philosophy in Deutschland in the late 1970s, I was, of course, led to the Logical Positivists, as well as Bertrand Russell, etc. Mr. Southerland’s admonition of study—and study hard—is right. But it is more important than to just study poetry, as he suggests. I think it is the responsibility of the poet to study, as some of the ancient Greek poets did, everything that is around them, including if need be, the entire Universe. Of course, we are limited by our minds and our hearts, by our knowledge and our power, in short, by life. But that does not mean the poet should not strive. The poet needs to strive as seriously as the philosopher, the mathematician, the physicist, or the composer—and countless others—no matter what our names may be.

  17. Evan Mantyk

    Returning to Mr. Hoke’s poem, this is really the gem of the whole piece:

    These all seem like regression to the mean,
    And you may think it looks boring as sin,
    But only once you settle on a scene,
    Can change cease from without, and start within.

    This “boring as sin” is a huge impediment to youth today, to people today, really. When it comes to arts and entertainment, people say “It’s boring,” and move on to something that most likely takes them further downward, ironically toward sin. The great works of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, and others, at their best, lead out of sin and in the opposite direction. This word “boring” is the one in the English language that I dislike the most for what it has done to people. Thank you again, Mr. Hoke.

  18. Joshua Simon Harris

    Although there have been a few digressions, this has been a well balanced discussion of this poem. I agree that the poem isn’t perfect, but it has its merits. The overall message is nuanced (owing, perhaps, to the “muddle” to which Mr. Mantyk refers) and interesting. There are some nice lines and phrases (line 4 is my favorite, I think; and I think line 5 is well placed, too). The meter is handled well (including Mr. Hoke’s variations). I think Mr. Wise’s comparisons to Shakespeare are apt, because Shakespeare definitely seems to be the biggest influence here (even if Mr. Hoke’s sonnet falls short of the bard… who doesn’t?).

    Some of the criticisms are spot-on, while others fall short. I don’t really have a problem with rhyming “down” and “out”, although I admit that it is a slant rhyme. Lines 7-8 are clunky and could be done better. The alleged double preposition in line 9 (“For in”) is not actually a double preposition, because “for” is used as a conjunction (as Mr. Wise points out); perhaps a comma (“For, in”) would make this more apparent. That being said, in the same line, you shouldn’t really say “For… then”; the word “then” is superfluous and makes the line clunky (I realize it was probably inserted for the meter). My biggest problem with the poem, however, has not been mentioned: the diacritical mark in “exposed” in the final line. Not only is it an out-of-place archaism in this poem, but it is also unnecessary: pronouncing the extra syllable breaks the meter (unless, as I suppose the poet intended, you pronounce “over” as a single syllable, which I don’t). Granted, the line without the diacritical mark is not iambic, but it has ten syllables and is actually an interesting metrical variation. Finally, the use of “suture” seems a bit forced in order to rhyme with “future”.

    With those issues in mind, I think the poem overall is enjoyable (the flaws do not make it an utter failure, even if it isn’t an utter success either). Maybe its because I just got married two weeks ago and the poem’s message speaks to me; or maybe its just not that bad, after all.

  19. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. I could be wrong, but I imagine Mr. Hoke must find some of the comments disconcerting. You write a poem, and the commentary goes off on a tangent; but that is fairly typical here—and generally worse elsewhere. It is so bad, I frequently write critiques upon my own works. If one waits for this generation, one could wait for doomsday.

    2. On the positive side, the first quatrain of Mr. Hoke’s sonnet neatly begins with a series of infinitives. Unlike Mr. Anderson, I have no trouble whatsoever with the rhyme of “down” & “out”. If Mr. Stone were here, he might point out the metrical violation at L6—”boring”. The lone, two-syllable rhyme-pair, “suture” & “future”, while mildly original, jars my sensibilities; but so what; artists have the freedom to do what they want. The dismount and the meaning of the sonnet are confusing to me, and the appearance in L14 of “exposéd” seals that confusion. I am not at all reminded of Franz Schubert’s “Fantasie in F Minor”, except in its distance from Mr. Hoke’s sonnet; for the clarity and classical precision of Schubert’s “Fantasie” are breathtaking.

    3. I must be careful using the word “classical”; for I tend to agree with T. S. Eliot in his assessment that, especially for the European language traditions, English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, Dutch, Romanian, etc. that Vergil is “our classic”; and that neither Shakespeare nor Milton are.

    4. Two fine poets found in this strand, Mr. Tweedie and Ms. Foreman, are, in my mind, competitive with Mr. Southerland’s “Classical coterie”, inferior in some ways, superior in others; but that is neither here nor there, as what matters in the end are the actual poems. Of their recent experiments in dactyls, “I Journey On” and “Re-Formation”, though problematic in more ways than even Mr. Spring mentioned in “Pentadactyl”, they are records of their bravery with language. They are trying. And as for reasoned, witty, critical comments they hold their own; but they already know that. I am surprised that Mr. Southerland does not appreciate the wit in their poems or the expertise of their work, when one can as easily find flaws in the work of Mr. MacKenzie, Mr. Salemi, Mr. Yankevich and Mr. Anderson, or as well that of Mr. Murphy, Mr. Whidden, Mr. Baer, Mr. Leithauser, Mr. Steele, Ms. Peacock, Mr. Levin, Mr. Jarman, Ms. Hacker, Mr. Gioia, and on and on and on.

    5. I appreciate Mr. Harris’ comments, as well as those of Mr. Krusch, though Ludwig II is not all that much of a mystery to me, anymore than, say, Keats or Longfellow who inhabits Mr. Krusch’s goblet.

    6. What is nice about Mr. Mantyk’s editorial super-vision (He is a bit of a “prophet” himself.) is he is a good literary critic himself.

    • Charlie Southerland

      Dear Mr. Wise-

      There is that rare poem which is flawless. I’ve read a few. It isn’t the ease with which a critic finds a flaw or flaws, it is repetition of the same flaws in a poet’s work that is the rub, especially after the critic/critics have pointed those anomalies out. I’ve never written a perfect poem. But I strive to write them.

      Flaws to me, come from the ear. I trust my ear. When there are hiccups in a poem, I hear them. When there are tsunami’s in a poem, I run away from the poem. It doesn’t matter to me in the least if the poem is witty or wise or not. At least, not in the beginning. I read for sound. Because I do it that way makes me different, I guess. Once I find the sounds throughout a poem acceptable, I go back and read it again for meaning. I go back again and read it for enjoyment. My apologies, I thought everyone did that.

      Everyone makes mistakes. In writing, everyone develops habits. Habits aren’t mistakes, per se. Bad habits are intentional. So are good habits. If you keep making the same mistakes in your work, they become habits which are very difficult to break, which is why some folks who critique other’s work are critiqued for their critiquing.

      I don’t say much about the coming young poets work. But a seasoned poet’s work is fair game. Hopefully, the youngsters will see where the problems lie and avoid them.

      You will see my critique style as “personal”. It is personal regarding the poem. If one tilts, it is an extension of their arm. Intent is not akin to ability.

  20. James Sale

    It needs to be said again: congratulations Josh Harris on your marriage – a wonderful thing. It was Dr Johnson who said that marriage has many pains, but celibacy has few pleasures! Notwithstanding that, love is worth any amount of pain if we can but find it. And, back to task, I have already said how much I enjoyed this poem. It also needs to be said that poetry is like religion, and especially the Christian religion, in that it was never manifested for perfect people, for if the people had been perfect there had been no need of salvation or of religion. Indeed, it is the very imperfection of the people that makes for a church and a community and our own spiritual growth as we accept others as they truly are. So with poetry. Poetry does not come ‘perfect’ or perfectly. We need to encourage everybody to read and to write and then to get better still at what they are doing. The idea that there are only 3 poets writing on this site worth reading is pernickety, pernicious, elitist, and worthy of some toffee-nosed Brit educated in the Oxbridge class system that we endure over here; surely not worthy of the land of the free – which I aspire to be part of? There are many excellent poets writing on this forum, and many poems I enjoy reading. Let’s not spoil this by creating a hierarchical structure of who is and who isn’t ‘important’. We are better than that.

  21. Charlie Southerland

    Dear Mr. Sale,

    So much of what you just said is superfluous. And some of it is flat out untrue. Much of “Modern” poetry is styled after the classics of pre-Christian times. It is why we study Greek, Persian, and Latin poetry. Many of those poets were perfectionists. They didn’t permit faulty work to see the light of day. It is why we study them in universities. Who would disagree with you that no one is perfect? Who would agree with you though, that handling rattlesnakes in church to prove your spiritual bona fides is the way to go to excel, either as a Christian, or a writer? No one said there were only three poets on this site worth reading. That is a straw man argument that doesn’t hold up. Nice try though. Go back and read my remarks.

    Me? an elitist? Surely, you jest. If you only knew where I came from…
    There are several poets writing on the site. Some write better than others. Those who write better are better prepared to succeed with their work. You don’t have to be super-intelligent to write good poems.

    I don’t remember anyone attempting to prevent you from enjoying anyone’s work, James. Little foxes spoil the vines; unpreparedness spoils the lines. There already exists a hierarchy here. It’s called: The Editor.

    • Amy Foreman

      On August 16th, C. Southerland writes: “There are many examples of poets and poetesses here attempting to write classical work but they can’t pull it off. McKenzie can do it. Dr. Salemi and Count Yankevich can do it. Perhaps, C.B. Anderson. That’s about it.”

      Then, on August 22nd, C. Southerland asserts to Mr. Sale: “No one said there were only three poets on this site worth reading. That is a straw man argument that doesn’t hold up. Nice try though. Go back and read my remarks.”

      I guess Mr. Sale must have overlooked the important fourth “perhaps” poet, Mr. Anderson, when he was counting C. Southerland’s list.

      If Mr. Sale would permit me to amend his comment to accurately reflect C. Southerland’s August 16th statement, it would read thus: ” The idea that there are only 3 (or perhaps 4) poets writing on this site worth reading is pernickety, pernicious, elitist, and worthy of some toffee-nosed Brit educated in the Oxbridge class system that we endure over here; surely not worthy of the land of the free – which I aspire to be part of .”

      Not TOO blatant a straw man, and pretty close to the mark, I’d say. 😉

      • Charlie Southerland

        Amy- you glossed over the word: “Classical.” I guess it depends on what the meaning of “classical” is.

        And, I read everyone’s work here. I guess that would qualify as worthy, don’t you think? Even yours.

        You are so thin-skinned, your corpuscles are showing.

        I think I’ll go and write a limerick about you. That would be classical.

      • Amy Foreman

        I’ll look forward to reading it, Charlie. I’m sure it will be an instant classic! 🙂

  22. Charlie Southerland

    Your wish is my command, Amy.

    On The Lilliputian Pad

    There once was a poetry site,
    Where a girl just had to be right.
    She tried a dactyl,
    Her claws retractile.
    She croaked, discodactylly trite.

    • Amy Foreman

      Very cute, sir. And returning the compliment, with a twinkle in my eye:

      My critic, a Formalist fellow
      Determined I couldn’t write well-o.
      “Learn the craft!” he would cry,
      When my verse he would spy.
      Yep, that gentleman loved to raise hell-o.

      • Charlie Southerland

        That is hilarious, Amy, well done.

        Perhaps I should stick to limericks…

  23. James Sale

    Thank you Amy – and by the way, as I have said before, I really like your poetry and think you a fine poet – for clarifying more exactly what I meant. I think that Charlie Sutherland is, sadly, the thin-skinned person in this poetic debate, which as a result of his contribution moves away from discussing Edward Hoke’s fine poem to insisting that we all admire his classical tastes and superior opinions, masquerading as facts, about poetry and what is or isn’t a good poem. So, as with his self-confessed hero, I am done debating with people like that because their egos and self-importance render them totally boring. One thing one can agree on, however, is that the editor of these pages does an excellent job, and in a real way the cause of classical poetry is being advanced; for that I am grateful and intend continuing to support SCP and all the real poets on its pages.

    • Charlie Southerland


      I only have one hero– Jesus Christ. And yes, I do confess him.

    • Amy Foreman

      “One thing one can agree on, however, is that the editor of these pages does an excellent job, and in a real way the cause of classical poetry is being advanced; for that I am grateful and intend continuing to support SCP and all the real poets on its pages.”

      Well said, James. I agree and applaud the excellent job that Evan Mantyk does here, allowing poets like us a platform where we can share our attempts–however feeble–with others who love the “sport” as much as we do!

      Looking forward to reading more from you, from Mr. Hoke, Mr. Krusch, Pastor Tweedie, Ms. Wyler, Mr. Wise, Mr. Harris, Mr. Behrens, and so many others. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the SCP.


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