Oh, When I Think Back

Oh, when I think back to those halcyon days,
When I believed the possibility
That truest love would manifest to me
And highest hopes would set the heart ablaze,
I looked amidst the heat, and smoke, and haze
To find this source of reciprocity,
To find the embers, glowing earnestly
Which gave me joy, but it was not to be.
For passion only came from in my heart
And not another, for it was not you
Who loved me back, but bade me to depart,
And stomped upon the yearning fires, too.
For all my dreams were thus deludedly
The conflagrations of a fantasy.



A Sonneteer’s Musing

I strive to put my heart and mind to page:
The art of fourteen lines is to be prized;
A craftsman, wordsmith, seeking to engage
The reader, and to be thus recognized.
With blood, and sweat, and tears, works are revised,
And pruned, and honed, in effort to be best;
Of quatrains, couplets, iambs, works comprised
Within the forms of sonnet— best expressed
In all ideas and thoughts within my breast,
And all the turns and lines within my mind.
So all components here are put to test,
And every facet fits when thus combined.

So for this title I will persevere,
To be known as a bard, a sonneteer.



Theresa Rodriguez is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs, a collection of 65 sonnets soon being released in a second edition by Shanti Arts, and her third book of poetry, entitled Longer Thoughts, which has just been released by Shanti Arts. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Religion and Intellectual Life, the Midwest Poetry Review, Leaf Magazine, Spindrift, the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, The Road Not Taken: A Journal of Formal Poetry, Mezzo Cammin, The Epoch Times, and the Society of Classical Poets. Her website is www.bardsinger.com.

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14 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    I think in your last line of “Sonneteer” you meant “bard” and not “board”.

    • Terry L. Norton

      Yes, I stumbled over “board” as well and thought “bard” was intended.

      I like the second sonnet but think the first is superb.

      • Theresa Rodriguez

        Thank you very much, Terry, for your kind comment. I am not sure where the “board” came from; I submitted it with “bard.” Maybe some auto-correct incident? Anyway it looks corrected now. Thanks again.

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    “A Sonneteer’s Musing” takes upon itself a very difficult task — writing a sonnet about the complex motivations of the writer of a sonnet, and the intricacies of the labor involved. Such a sonnet is always going to be somewhat abstract and introspective, since it does not address anything external like a love situation or an argument.

    Let me make a few suggestions: Because the basic pitfall of any sonnet like this is over-abstraction, the best thing to do is avoid unnecessary abstraction by getting rid of certain terms, and by enchanting the reader with a very smooth rhythmic flow. In this sonnet, the three weak lines are 9, 10, and 11:

    In all ideas and thoughts within my breast,
    And all the turns and lines within my mind.
    So all components here are put to test

    The repetitions of “all” and “within my” are also a problem. A possible revision (which avoids them, and tones down the abstractions) might be this:

    By all the intimations that suggest
    The many turning thoughts within my mind.

    The eleventh line (which uses the clunky abstraction “components”) could also be revised by giving a suggestion of warfare coming to a happy conclusion:

    So warring parts at last are put to rest,
    And every facet fits when thus combined.

    This also avoids the mistake of “put to test,” which is not a proper idiom. The correct form is “put to the test,” but since that spoils the meter it’s better to use “put to rest.” All of this gives a much sharper closure to the poem.

    These are just suggestions, nothing more.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      Many thanks, Dr. Salemi, for taking the time to make such thoughtful suggestions on behalf of my sonnet. I appreciate it very much. You have given me much food for thought!

  3. Margaret Coats

    What an intriguing pair! The first seems all love, and the second all art. Not true, of course, because both read with metrical perfection. And “Oh, when I think back” plays judiciously with the fire imagery, even when the poem reaches and names the conflagrations in the last line and word. “Musing” has an exquisite turn, with sonnet subjects (“all ideas and thoughts”) added generically to the octave’s discourse on the craft. A struggling love of “works comprised” seems to be the love in this art sonnet. And then there is the contrast of rhyme scheme between the two poems–a challenging Spenserian following the Petrarchan that surreptitiously returns to bb for its “illicit” couplet. Did you plan these as such a superb pair?

  4. Theresa Rodriguez

    Thank you Margaret for your kind comments, they mean a great deal to me. No, I did not plan these as a pair; the credit for that goes to the choice Evan made out of three that I had originally submitted. Thanks again very much, your words are quite an encouragement!

  5. C.B. Anderson

    In the first poem, Theresa, in the 11th line, you wrote “bid,” but since the surrounding clauses are in the past tense, you should have written “bade,” which would keep the whole passage in the past tense. Otherwise, the two poems were nice compelling work.

    • Theresa Rodriguez

      Thank you, C.B., for pointing out the needed correction and for your kind comment, I appreciate it very much! I have asked Evan to amend it.

  6. James Sale

    Lovely poetry; Theresa is always at her best when she writes from the heart: “When I believed the possibility

    That truest love would manifest to me

    And highest hopes would set the heart ablaze,” – so simple but so powerful too. Excellent work.


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