Common Language

I hear the music of the artist’s brush
Bruise with color the canvas’ white,
Feel the composers’ fingers rush
Across the keyboard into night
To lodge clear notes in the blackest sky,
Stars for some poor poet to ponder,
For some sculptor to absorb and sigh
While letting the free muse wander.

I taste the red of the ancient rose
Hanging framed upon the wall
And smell the thought the thinker knows
On sojourns through bright leaves that fall
On landscapes painted long ago,
From symphonies that shake the trees,
Oils that chill the scene with snow,
And portraits of Jesus on Mary’s knees.

The masters rarely missed the mark;
Perfection was their recompense,
A light that pierced the primal dark
And bathed the soul and every sense
With what would fly beyond their hands
To fill the eyes and ears and hearts
Of distant souls in foreign lands
Who speak the language of the arts.


The English Sonnet

When Petrarch formed the fourteen magic lines
And Wyatt brought them home to show his king
The sonnet found its way to greater times.
The Renaissance gave life to everything,
And old Italian poems in English hands
Were changed in rhyme, a powerful rebirth
Of ink that flowed through hearts in foreign lands
And filled poetic pages round the Earth.
But now the sound of five iambic feet
That dance their way through every sonnet line
To form a classic rhythm in a beat
That culminates with planned and skillful rhyme
Presents a challenge: Can the modern pen
Succeed at giving sonnets life again?


Mike Ruskovich lives in Grangeville, Idaho. He taught high school English for thirty-six years. He and his wife have four children.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

NOTE TO POETS: 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.


36 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    I’m sure there’s a word (which I don’t know) for going between the senses and you have mastered it.

    One tiny suggestion to consider in “Common Language”, first verse, last line –
    it it read:

    While letting (setting?) free the muse to wander

    you would have intensified the rhyme with “to ponder”.

    Great work all around.

  2. James Sale

    Great stuff Mike – love several of these lines: “A light that pierced the primal dark” and the Sonnet is very good and answers its own question at the end. Nice!!! Well done.

  3. J. Simon Harris

    Both of these are really excellent. The language is powerful and flows very naturally with the meter, and as James Sale pointed out, there are many individual lines that resound in the ear.

    The word Mr. Tessitore was looking for, a mingling of the senses, is “synesthesia.” And he is right: you have quite mastered it.

    As for Mr. Tessitore’s suggestion, I agree that his version of the line flows a bit better than yours (in fact, it was the only one of your lines that tripped me up a bit), but I do think “wander” is a closer rhyme to “ponder” than “wonder”, despite the spellings. Maybe it’s just in my dialect?

    Anyway, great work! These were a pleasure to read this morning.

    • Joe Tessitore

      If it’s anything like the Christian conception of the Spirit, the muse can’t ‘wonder’.
      We wonder, and the muse and the Spirit set us straight.

      Wander/ponder is the better of the two, as far as my ear is concerned.

      • J. Simon Harris

        Somehow I misread your original post as reading “wonder” instead of “wander”, hence my comment. My mistake. I like your suggested line.

  4. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    The Italian sonnet form Petrarch used is not a product of the Renaissance, but of the Middle Ages. It was invented circa 1230 A.D. by Giacomo da Lentini, the most important poet of the Sicilian school, an official in the court of Emperor Federick II. Petrarch is already late in the sonnet’s history and far from the first to use the form in Tuscan dialect. Also, human arts and letters had a vibrant efflorescence well before the Florentine Renaissance, so we are by no means obliged uncritically to accept Michelet’s passé view of history, namely that “the Renaissance gave life to everything,” as if everything were dead prior to it.

  5. Charles Southerland

    Usually, whether invented or borrowed, the Petrarchan sonnet is known as such because of the 360 or so Italian sonnets he penned. Prior to that, the Italian sonnet was for all practical purposes, dead. Mr Kyntale/Alistair, very well knows this. What’s found in a name/names? It depends. Perhaps Mr. Kyntale/Fr. Francis, could give a cogent critique of the sonnet presented here, or the other poem, both of which are pretty darn good.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    Charlie, why this constant badgering of Joseph MacKenzie? Is it really necessary? And you are wrong — the sonnet was not “dead” before Petrarch. It was invented by the Sicilian writer Giacomo da Lentini in the early thirteenth century, and was practiced extensively in the court of Frederick. It spread to Italy and was used in both Tuscan and the various other Italian dialects. It is absolutely incorrect to think that “the Renaissance” gave birth to the sonnet.

    Of course Ruskovich has the literary license to exaggerate and embellish in his poem — that’s the right of every creative artist. Also, Petrarch wrote over 800 sonnets, not 360. Even in his own day some critics thought that he overdid it.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      When you consider that the Sicilian school of the Magna Curia alone produced innumerable sonnets, some 300 of which are extant, and that Manfredi continued the trend to its fullest, the assertion that the sonnet was dead before the Petrarch is patently inaccurate.

      It’s true what you say, Dr. Salemi, that Petrarch was accused, even in his own day, of falling into his own mannerism.

      One doesn’t even need to be a scholar—just think of the timeline: Guido Cavalcanti, Dante, and the other Stilnovisti in their circle (a long list indeed) together formed what was perhaps the most vibrant school of sonnet-writing the world had ever known, by far surpassing the Elizabethan “sonnet vogue” of the 1590s in England. Petrarch wasn’t even born until several years after Cavalcanti’s death!

      As soon as I was able to read the “Rerum vulgarium fragmenta,” I did so—the whole thing. What many Americans don’t know about the Canzoniere is that is was as popular in its day for the other forms it contains as it was for the sonnet. There are sestinas, quatrains, various canzoni, even madrigals, not to mention the balatas.

      I do consider myself fortunate in that my minor graduate studies were in Italian under the tutelage of a very fine Sicilian professor. If Wyatt and Surrey were able to read, translate, and recite the Italian sonnet, then it seems to me that modern poets striving to deepen their understand the English sonnet would do well to consider acquiring a good reading knowledge of Italian.

    • Charles Southerland

      To clarify, once again: Petrarch penned 360 sonnets about his love. I didn’t say he only wrote 360 sonnets, Hair-Splitters.

  7. David Paul Behrens

    I am by no means a great literary scholar, like many of the poets who participate on this website, such as Anderson, Mackenzie, Southerland, Sale, Tweedie, Salemi or Mantyk, to name a few. But by all means, I regard these poems as being very good. Well done.

  8. Charles Southerland

    Joe, I didn’t say the Italian sonnet was dead. I said for all practical purposes it was dead. It had fallen into obscurity and disuse over the years and it was Petrarch who revived it. It had nothing to do with either the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. Petrarch happened to like the form and it fit his needs; (the woman) he wrote many of the sonnets about. Many poets have done those things. Neither time nor place had much, if anything to do with it. We have the luxury of looking back and conveniently categorizing such events and placing them in little niches for our own purposes. It gets tiresome, Joe.

    Mr. McKenzie needs to refrain himself from demeaning everyone he disagrees with. Sometimes he’s subtle about it but that gets tiresome as well. I don’t care a rat’s patoot if he wants to paint everything in a Catholic bent, but he can knock off his demeaning of Protestants and others while he’s doing it. Until he stops doing it, then yes, it is necessary. Rein in your dog, Joe. I’ve had enough.

    • Charles Southerland

      Dear DPB–

      I am the farthest thing away from being a scholar. I just liked the poems too.

  9. Charles Southerland

    To Clarify: No one on this thread but Mckenzie said anything about the sonnet coming out of the Renaissance. It is a Straw Man argument Mr. McKenzie made up for God knows what reason. He does that a lot too.

  10. C.B. Anderson

    Well! Everybody should take a deep breath. I want to ask Mike Ruskovich whether he lives in Idaho”s so-called banana belt. If so, then he is dwelling in the land of Appaloosa horses, which the Nez Perce Indians bred from stock provided by Father Junipero Serra. In that case, he is privileged to live in one of the best climates in the world. Wherever he hails from, his poems receive high marks from me, and I wonder how he got from that place to this place.

    I hope Chief Joseph might have felt the same way. God bless.

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    I was going to say more, but after Kip’s excellent suggested deep breath I think I’ll pass. Let’s not jump on every little perceived offense, and turn it into an occasion for open warfare in these threads.

    Also, if there are certain persons with whom you just cannot get along here, you should make the decision not to confront or answer them at all. I’ve made that decision with three specific personages who post here at the SCP.

    • Joe Tessitore

      I guess this means that Joseph Charles gets to attack all that is not Catholic ‘till the cows come home, and the rest of us get to listen.

      To do so is not Catholic either from his perspective or from ours.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Who are you, Mr. Tessitore, to decide what is genuinely Catholic and non-Catholic? What supreme arrogance.

      • Joe Tessitore

        More arrogant than declaring that the Pope is not the Pope?

      • Joe Tessitore

        Subtly misleading of you to frame your remarks in terms of supreme arrogance – it reminds me of liberal ideologues and their politics of personal attack.

        All Catholics are called to inform and follow their consciences – to learn more and more about the Faith in the hope of becoming better Catholics.

        I recommend “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” to you if you are so interested.

  12. David Gosselin

    Hi Mike,

    I think there’s something there. “Common Language” is quite nice and treats the idea of universality of beauty in a nice and original way. It takes a humble approach with a yet soulful touch. It’s not academic, nor is it bold, boastful or all-knowing. While there are perhaps some things I would have done differently, overall, it’s a nice poem and it treats its theme with the proper sensibility.

    I think you’ll enjoy an article recently published, it’s called “Clarity and Obscurity: The Essences of Classicism and Modernism Compared.” I think it speaks to the kinds of ideas you are writing about:

    In regards to those quibbling about the origins of the sonnet, I didn’t read your poem in such literal terms. Was it really supposed to give an account of the whole history of the sonnet? It said “when Petrarch formed the fourteen magic lines”; I didn’t read that as the sonnet never existed before, or any sort of authoritative account of things…. Maybe you could have said “when Petrarch weaved his fourteen magic lines,” but it’s such a slight difference.

    Your message was clear and the spirit of your poem was clear.

    I actually launched a project to translate many of Dante’s Canzoni into English since all those translations that I could find seemed to have been translated by academics who while translating the literal meaning, seemed to have lost all the poetry. In this respect, one of the commentators above is correct in saying that “modern poets striving to deepen their understanding of the English sonnet would do well to consider acquiring a good reading knowledge of Italian.” Beyond the sonetto, Dante’s canzone is the supreme example of poetic mastery.

    Here is Shelley on the subject:

    The imagery which I have employed will be found . . . to have been drawn from the operations of the human mind, or from those external actions by which they are expressed. This is unusual in modern poetry, although Dante and Shakespeare are full of instances of the same kind; Dante, indeed, more than any other poet, and with greater success.

    -From his preface to Prometheus Unbound.

    You can find many of Dante’s greatest canzoni, which I translated as new authentic English poems, here:

    When Keats set out to compose his great Odes, he looked to the canzone form in order to find a vehicle fitting to communicate the kinds of profound ideas he wished to develop. He adapted the Italian canzone form, which had been tailored for the Italian language, to English. It should never be forgotten that Keats was hearkening back to the loftiest ideal of poetry as it was developed by Dante and his collaborators. So was Shelley.

    As Shelley writes in his Defense of Poetry:

    The age immediately succeeding to that of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio was characterized by a revival of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Chaucer caught the sacred inspiration, and the superstructure of English literature is based upon the materials of Italian invention.

    I would encourage you to keep writing. It will be interesting to see how you take up different themes.

    Here are a few recent examples of poems I’ve published by other poets on The Chained Muse, which also speak to the same kind of thing I think your poems are getting at:

    I’d be interested to see what other kinds of poems you have. Feel free to submit something.

    Lastly, in order to encourage further elaborations on the kinds of themes you’ve written about, I would offer this piece, which forever changed the way I thought about poetry. It is written by the poet Paul Gallagher, whose Songbirds poem I linked to above. The piece is entitled “Agape vs. Eros in Poetry: Percy Shelley vs. the ‘Romantics’ – The Reawakening Of Classical Metaphor”



    • James Sale

      Thanks David. I like your Dante translation: the language is elevated without being archaic; you seem to capture the right pitch and tone. Good work. Mike’s sonnet talks about giving the sonnet “life again”, and this is what all true poets are trying to do: to give life again to those psychological and spiritual truths which have been reduced to mere cliches in our contemporary culture.

  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    Which catechism is that, Mr. Tessitore? The traditional one of the Council of Trent, or the one just defaced by your fake Pope Bergoglio with a totally uncanonical revision of three thousand years of Catholic and Old Testament tradition, by unilaterally and illegally declaring that capital punishment is now immoral and sinful?

    As for reading recommendations, I recommend to you any good book on basic logic. You didn’t even know that there was a serious dispute about Bergoglio’s status until I told you about it in a thread here. I guess you’re not as well informed as a Catholic ought to be.

    • C.B. Anderson

      In this Joe vs. Joe match-up,only one man will come out alive. One man champions logic, the other defies it. Place your bets, gentlemen.

      • Joe Tessitore

        I clicked on Salemi, C.B., but my reply came out to you.

        As far as logic is concerned, is it logical to believe in life after death?

        As far as the match-up is concerned:

        The Lord is my light and my salvation – of whom shall I be afraid?

        Joe Salemi?

    • Joe Tessitore

      I believe that God is omnipotent and that His hand guides everything.
      I believe that God the Holy Spirit guides papal elections.
      I do not believe that a legion of “homosexualist cardinals” is ‘more omnipotent’ than God the Holy Spirit.
      I believe that ideology poisons everything, including those who adhere to one.

      Your monumental ill-will bears witness to this.

    • Joe Tessitore

      So as not to leave any loose ends:

      Question: What does knowledge of current events have to do with logic?

      Answer: Nothing.

      I thank you, though, for bringing me up to speed about the not-my-Pope issue.
      It, along with your poetry and what your students post about you, tells me all I really need to know.

  14. Charles Southerland

    Bubbbbbut, Kip,

    There are flies in the ointment-

    Somebody’s got some s’plainin’ to do.

    Jesuit Extreme Oath of Induction

    The following is the Jesuit Extreme Oath of Induction given to high ranking Jesuits only. This oath is taken from the book Subterranean Rome by Carlos Didier, translated from the French, and published in New York in 1843.

    “When a Jesuit of the minor rank is to be elevated to command, he is conducted into the Chapel of the Convent of the Order, where there are only three others present, the principal or Superior standing in front of the altar. On either side stands a monk, one of whom holds a banner of yellow and white, which are the Papal colors, and the other a black banner with a dagger and red cross above a skull and crossbones, with the word INRI, and below them the words IUSTUM, NECAR, REGES, IMPIOUS. The meaning of which is: It is just to exterminate or annihilate impious or heretical Kings, Governments, or Rulers. Upon the floor is a red cross at which the postulant or candidate kneels. The Superior hands him a small black crucifix, which he takes in his left hand and presses to his heart, and the Superior at the same time presents to him a dagger, which he grasps by the blade and holds the point against his heart, the Superior still holding it by the hilt, and thus addresses the postulant:”


    My son, heretofore you have been taught to act the dissembler: among Roman Catholics to be a Roman Catholic, and to be a spy even among your own brethren; to believe no man, to trust no man. Among the Reformers, to be a reformer; among the Huguenots, to be a Huguenot; among the Calvinists, to be a Calvinist; among other Protestants, generally to be a Protestant, and obtaining their confidence, to seek even to preach from their pulpits, and to denounce with all the vehemence in your nature our Holy Religion and the Pope; and even to descend so low as to become a Jew among Jews, that you might be enabled to gather together all information for the benefit of your Order as a faithful soldier of the Pope.

    You have been taught to insidiously plant the seeds of jealousy and hatred between communities, provinces, states that were at peace, and incite them to deeds of blood, involving them in war with each other, and to create revolutions and civil wars in countries that were independent and prosperous, cultivating the arts and the sciences and enjoying the blessings of peace. To take sides with the combatants and to act secretly with your brother Jesuit, who might be engaged on the other side, but openly opposed to that with which you might be connected, only that the Church might be the gainer in the end, in the conditions fixed in the treaties for peace and that the end justifies the means.

    You have been taught your duty as a spy, to gather all statistics, facts and information in your power from every source; to ingratiate yourself into the confidence of the family circle of Protestants and heretics of every class and character, as well as that of the merchant, the banker, the lawyer, among the schools and universities, in parliaments and legislatures, and the judiciaries and councils of state, and to be all things to all men, for the Pope’s sake, whose servants we are unto death.

    You have received all your instructions heretofore as a novice, a neophyte, and have served as co-adjurer, confessor and priest, but you have not yet been invested with all that is necessary to command in the Army of Loyola in the service of the Pope. You must serve the proper time as the instrument and executioner as directed by your superiors; for none can command here who has not consecrated his labors with the blood of the heretic; for “without the shedding of blood no man can be saved.” Therefore, to fit yourself for your work and make your own salvation sure, you will, in addition to your former oath of obedience to your order and allegiance to the Pope, repeat after me—

    The Extreme Oath of the Jesuits:

    “1, _ now, in the presence of Almighty God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the blessed Michael the Archangel, the blessed St. John the Baptist, the holy Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul and all the saints and sacred hosts of heaven, and to you, my ghostly father, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in the Pontificate of Paul the Third, and continued to the present, do by the womb of the virgin, the matrix of God, and the rod of Jesus Christ, declare and swear, that his holiness the Pope is Christ’s Vice-regent and is the true and only head of the Catholic or Universal Church throughout the earth; and that by virtue of the keys of binding and loosing, given to his Holiness by my Savior, Jesus Christ, he hath power to depose heretical kings, princes, states, commonwealths and governments, all being illegal without his sacred confirmation and that they may safely be destroyed. Therefore, to the utmost of my power I shall and will defend this doctrine of his Holiness’ right and custom against all usurpers of the heretical or Protestant authority whatever, especially the Lutheran of Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the now pretended authority and churches of England and Scotland, and branches of the same now established in Ireland and on the Continent of America and elsewhere; and all adherents in regard that they be usurped and heretical, opposing the sacred Mother Church of Rome. I do now renounce and disown any allegiance as due to any heretical king, prince or state named Protestants or Liberals, or obedience to any of the laws, magistrates or officers.

    I do further declare that the doctrine of the churches of England and Scotland, of the Calvinists, Huguenots and others of the name Protestants or Liberals to be damnable and they themselves damned who will not forsake the same.

    I do further declare, that I will help, assist, and advise all or any of his Holiness’ agents in any place wherever I shall be, in Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, England, Ireland or America, or in any other Kingdom or territory I shall come to, and do my uttermost to extirpate the heretical Protestants or Liberals’ doctrines and to destroy all their pretended powers, regal or otherwise.

    I do further promise and declare, that notwithstanding I am dispensed with, to assume my religion heretical, for the propaganda of the Mother Church’s interest, to keep secret and private all her agents’ counsels from time to time, as they may entrust me and not to divulge, directly or indirectly, by word, writing or circumstance whatever; but to execute all that shall be proposed, given in charge or discovered unto me, by you, my ghostly father, or any of this sacred covenant.

    I do further promise and declare, that I will have no opinion or will of my own, or any mental reservation whatever, even as a corpse or cadaver (perinde ac cadaver), but will unhesitatingly obey each and every command that I may receive from my superiors in the Militia of the Pope and of Jesus Christ.

    That I may go to any part of the world withersoever I may be sent, to the frozen regions of the North, the burning sands of the desert of Africa, or the jungles of India, to the centers of civilization of Europe, or to the wild haunts of the barbarous savages of America, without murmuring or repining, and will be submissive in all things whatsoever communicated to me.

    I furthermore promise and declare that I will, when opportunity present, make and wage relentless war, secretly or openly, against all heretics, Protestants and Liberals, as I am directed to do, to extirpate and exterminate them from the face of the whole earth; and that I will spare neither age, sex or condition; and that I will hang, waste, boil, flay, strangle and bury alive these infamous heretics, rip up the stomachs and wombs of their women and crush their infants’ heads against the walls, in order to annihilate forever their execrable race. That when the same cannot be done openly, I will secretly use the poisoned cup, the strangulating cord, the steel of the poniard or the leaden bullet, regardless of the honor, rank, dignity, or authority of the person or persons, whatever may be their condition in life, either public or private, as I at any time may be directed so to do by any agent of the Pope or Superior of the Brotherhood of the Holy Faith, of the Society of Jesus.

    In confirmation of which, I hereby dedicate my life, my soul and all my corporal powers, and with this dagger which I now receive, I will subscribe my name written in my own blood, in testimony thereof; and should I prove false or weaken in my determination, may my brethren and fellow soldiers of the Militia of the Pope cut off my hands and my feet, and my throat from ear to ear, my belly opened and sulphur burned therein, with all the punishment that can be inflicted upon me on earth and my soul be tortured by demons in an eternal hell forever!

    All of which, I, _, do swear by the Blessed Trinity and blessed Sacraments, which I am now to receive, to perform and on my part to keep inviolable; and do call all the heavenly and glorious host of heaven to witness the blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, and witness the same further with my name written and with the point of this dagger dipped in my own blood and sealed in the face of this holy covenant.”

    (He receives the wafer from the Superior and writes his name with the point of his dagger dipped in his own blood taken from over his heart.)


    “You will now rise to your feet and I will instruct you in the Catechism necessary to make yourself known to any member of the Society of Jesus belonging to this rank.

    In the first place, you, as a Brother Jesuit, will with another mutually make the ordinary sign of the cross as any ordinary Roman Catholic would; then one cross his wrists, the palms of his hands open, and the other in answer crosses his feet, one above the other; the first points with forefinger of the right hand to the center of the palm of the left, the other with the forefinger of the left hand points to the center of the palm of the right; the first then with his right hand makes a circle around his head, touching it; the other then with the forefinger of his left hand touches the left side of his body just below his heart; the first then with his right hand draws it across the throat of the other, and the latter then with a dagger down the stomach and abdomen of the first. The first then says Iustum; and the other answers Necar; the first Reges. The other answers Impious.” (The meaning of which has already been explained.) “The first will then present a small piece of paper folded in a peculiar manner, four times, which the other will cut longitudinally and on opening the name Jesu will be found written upon the head and arms of a cross three times. You will then give and receive with him the following questions and answers:

    Question —From whither do you come? Answer — The Holy faith.

    Q. —Whom do you serve?

    A. —The Holy Father at Rome, the Pope, and the Roman Catholic Church Universal throughout the world.

    Q. —Who commands you?

    A. —The Successor of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus or the Soldiers of Jesus Christ.

    Q. —Who received you? A. —A venerable man in white hair.

    Q. —How?

    A. —With a naked dagger, I kneeling upon the cross beneath the banners of the Pope and of our sacred order.

    Q. —Did you take an oath?

    A. —I did, to destroy heretics and their governments and rulers, and to spare neither age, sex nor condition. To be as a corpse without any opinion or will of my own, but to implicitly obey my Superiors in all things without hesitation of murmuring.

    Q. —Will you do that? A. —I will.

    Q. —How do you travel? A. —In the bark of Peter the fisherman.

    Q. —Whither do you travel? A. —To the four quarters of the globe. Q. —For what purpose?

    A. —To obey the orders of my general and Superiors and execute the will of the Pope and faithfully fulfill the conditions of my oaths.

    Q. —Go ye, then, into all the world and take possession of all lands in the name of the Pope. He who will not accept him as the Vicar of Jesus and his Vice-regent on earth, let him be accursed and exterminated.”

  15. Charles Southerland

    There are 3 Joe’s. I know only one studied for/with the Jesuits…

    • C.B. Anderson

      Nicely done, Charlie, bubbbbut what have I done to deserve it? I’m just a nominal Episcopalian who no longer has anything he wishes to protest. Should I be outraged by the Jesuit oath? Maybe so, but I’ll be damned before I subject my Roman Catholic friends to a Protestant Inquisition. Bale your hay and fish your heart out, but don’t pretend that you think the three Joes don’t love you, each in their own way. I, myself, am not a great defender of the faith, but I think I know a little bit of what charity means, and I assume that you and the other principals involved may dwell together in equable accord. I should hate for this to become another Israel/Palestine disaster. MacKenzie, whom I consider a friend, should not have to defend his faith, and neither should you find cause to attack it. Everybody here has a voice, and we should raise them loud and clear. Conspiracy theories, howsoever valid, have a short shelf-life.

      • Charles Southerland

        Kip, for me, the point has always been that this site is a POETRY website, not a platform for anyone to either promote their religious beliefs to the detriment of others who don’t believe like they do. Mr. Mck. has stepped out of bounds from the realm of poetry into the realm of judgement and blame. He’s done it in a myriad of ways. It is bad form, uncalled for. I love my friends, no matter their beliefs, but Mr. Mck. has stepped on that without any consideration for the consequences of it.He continues on. All of us are free (still) to discuss our beliefs. I have no issue with that. But, this is a place for poetics. Don’t pee on my leg and call it holy water.

  16. Joseph S. Salemi

    The absurd “Jesuit Extreme Oath of Induction” is about as genuine as “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” I’m surprised at you, Charlie.

    As for the “only Joe” who studied with the Jesuits, I guess you mean me. I spent four years under the tutelage of the Jesuits at Fordham University.

  17. Charles Southerland

    No, Joe, I didn’t mean you. Of course the Oath is absurd. That was the point.

  18. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. I appreciate Mr. Harris’ bringing up the term synesthesia; but when some writer @ Poetry Magazine defines it in such a way as to suggest worthy practicianers are Baudelaire, Rimbeau, Sitwell, Meredith, and Shelley, it doesn’t sit well with me, and seems non-sensical. I remember in my youth, following Rimbeau, and attempting to colour my vowels, but I long ago gave up such magic tricks, as lacking anything but the thinnest shred of reality. Those writers @ SCP who strive to employ it, good luck. To me, following Vergil and Shakespeare (whom Mr. Juster alluded to in his sonnet), it is linguistic synthesis that matters more.

    2. I deeply appreciate Mr. MacKenzie’s points about the sonnet’s beginning and his check on Jules Michelet’s (1798-1874) interpretation of the Renaissance. Though Mr. MacKenzie frequently goes off the deep end prosaic’lly and poetic’lly (Who doesn’t?), I think his comments on French and Italian literature are the best here @ SCP. Mr. MacKenzie was on target by invoking both Cavalcanti and Dante, as fine prePetrarcan sonneteers. His advice about studying Italian, too, is excellent. Though sonnets have been continually written in English for approximately half a millennium, there is a wonder to the Elizabethan sonnets, even for those of us, who are Donne with them.

    3. I also appreciate Mr. Gosselin sending us to Adam Sedia’s essay contrasting Shelley with Hart Crane. I appreciate Mr. Sedia’s statement that “The first aspect immediately noticeable about a classical poem is its clarity of expression.” Perhaps ironically, Crane was more important for my poetic development than was Shelley. Shelley was a passion of my twenties; Crane was a Modernist block I had to get through to get to the New Millennium. Even though, like Mr. Sedia, I dislike Crane’s work, it seems more colourful than Shelley’s to me (except maybe Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind); and although Shelley’s language is more overtly Italianate, Crane’s language, even when I hate it, is a marvel of the Modernist era. As Mr. Sale points out, we should be thankful for Mr. Gosselin’s work on the canzone, as I think it fits his style of writing perfectly, even if we do not share his enthusiasm for it. I like very much those willing to experiment with English, even if a certain amount of failure follows. That is one of the lessons I learned from the Modernists that I won’t give up.

    4. Mr. MacKenzie is right to point out the centrality of Roman Catholicism to Western Civilization, and, more generally speaking to Civilization overall; but others, like Mr. Southerland, are also correct to point there are other important religious, philosophical, and scientific traditions, which make up the rich panoply of planet Earth, all of which should be able to find a home @ SCP English-language poetry, even, or perhaps especially, when we disagree with them; for then we can argue our points out—clearly and distinctly, if possible.

  19. Monty

    Both poems are good concepts, Mike. The sentiment in ‘Language’ is similar, in spirit, to another quality poem ‘It’.. which appeared on these pages in recent days.

    Staying with ‘Language’: although it’s undoubtedly well-written and well-rhymed, I feel that several parts of it are rhythmically-disjointed; to the extent that they disturb the flow. These could be remedied with only minor alterations (such as one commenter’s suggestion that line 8 could read: “While letting free the muse to wander”.. which rolls much more fluidly off the tongue).

    As for the ‘Sonnet’: I can’t say too much, because a/ I have not the slightest knowledge about the history of it (and will never have any desire to do so, for reasons perfectly encapsulated by one commenter above, who rightfully states that “We have the luxury of looking back and conveniently categorising . . events, and placing them in little niches for our own purposes” . . that’s how I see ALL history before the 1600’s: pure conjecture! That’s why I don’t read any poetry from before that time – none of the so-called ‘classics’ – because, try as I might, I just can’t fully trust what I’m reading. My only ‘trust’ regarding that period is in the old claim that “history’s for fools”).. b/ Since discovering SCP (my first real poetry-site) I’ve began to regard the modern-day Sonnet as over-rated, over-used, restrictive, and far too trendy: even sheep-like. It seems like some are over-eager to use the form in the belief that it’ll add some sort of emphasis or authenticity to their poems; to the extent that their only desire is to write a sonnet.. not a poem (if you see what I’m saying) . . . But I will say that you’ve found an innovative way of using it for this poem, and I like the way it ends with a valid question. In fact, I think the last 6 lines in general (the challenge) are imaginatively effective in posing the question; but I personally would’ve put the whole of line 12 in brackets, hence it’d be easier for the reader to retain the link between line 9 and line 13: “But now the sound of five iambic feet . . presents a challenge”. Also in line 12: the word ‘which’ would be far better before ‘culminates’ . . and ‘culminates’ itself should (always, as far as I know) be followed by the word ‘in’, not ‘with’.

    All in all, Mike: 2 decent poems.. 2 decent ideas.. 2 decent ways of stimulating thought in a reader.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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