"Farm House and Windmill by Moonlight" by Ivan Aivazovsky‘With How Sad Steps’ and Other Petrarchan Sonnets by Peter Austin The Society July 19, 2021 Beauty, Humor, Poetry 9 Comments . With How Sad Steps from a Philip Sidney sonnet With how sad steps, O Moon, you climb the skies! How silently, and with how wan a face! What see you? Humankind’s excessive pace Getting from here to there? We are not wise, Who to alarm clock daily need arise, At nighttime weary steps to bed retrace Half drunk, the day’s displeasures to erase And lie there, in the dark, with unshut eyes. For what, so mad a gallop to the wire? Retirement: frail, dyspeptic mals vivants, Damning the crossword, dozing by the fire, Scanning the news with mordant nonchalance, Shaking off the temptation to enquire, Did we slow down to smell the roses once?’ . . Muzak from a sonnet by Emmeline Stuart-Wortley There is a racket in my mind tonight; Unease, it brings, from I recall not where. In the silence, I hear it sounding there, The audible equivalent of blight! ’Tis not that Rimski-Korsakovian flight Of vengeful wasps, nor some snake-charming air, From which I lately ran, nor première Of a barbaric, tuneless pagan rite. Where wandered I, of late, and mayhap heard That awful sound? I have it! – in a mall, Piped from speakers, sickly as lemon curd Except to the tone-deaf Neanderthal, Whom it, perchance, unconscionably spurred To open purse and spend (what utter gall!). . . O Solitude! “Hell is the aloneness of self” —T S Eliot from a Keats sonnet O solitude! If I must with thee dwell, The haunt of mountain goats be not for me, Nor yet a far-flung island in the sea, Voiceless but for the waters’ ebb and swell, Nor yet some sand-blown desert’s fiery hell, Mirage beguiled, for shade a spreading tree Where water springs but both, on closing, flee Like phantoms…. If it please you, to dispel The thund’rous roar of silence let there be Some wherewithal to watch the daytime soaps, An iPad primed with games (for you’ll agree They deftly drive away the nighttime mopes), And an ample supply of eau de vie, Exile best being borne by him who topes. . . Peter Austin is a retired Professor of English who lives in Toronto with his younger two daughters. 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 email@example.com. 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. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 9 Responses C.B. Anderson July 19, 2021 Your craft, as ever, Peter, is superb. What’s more, using archaic pronouns and other turns of phrase along with very contemporary items (e.g. mall) adds a delicious touch of humor. Petrarch never had it this good. There are those who would say that petrarchan sonnets are harder to write because English is less rhyme-rich than Italian, but you (and many others) have shown that English has plenty of rhymes to go around. Reply Peter Austin July 21, 2021 CB: Many thanks for the encouraging feedback. I agree that there are plenty of rhymes going round, if you have the stick-to-it-iveness to find them. Peter Reply Paul Freeman July 19, 2021 I can only echo that mixing in the modern (malls, iPads and soaps) with the traditional, worked really well, giving the themes of these poems a modern feel while (big word alert!) encapsulating them in a traditional sonnet form. Okay, it was a big word for me. I particularly enjoyed the second and third sonnets for their turn to humour. Thanks for the reads, Peter. Reply Peter Austin July 21, 2021 Paul: Thanks for the encouraging feedback. It’s always nice to be read and appreciated. As for ‘encapsulating’, it is a splendid word and deserves more use than it gets. Peter Reply Julian D. Woodruff July 19, 2021 Mr. Austin, Thank you for 3 fine poems, and for introducing me to 3 others. I fear that form me, scribbling poetry intrudes on smelling the roses; I need more balance, which would benefit me & also, probably, my poetry. The mal mall is aptly derided. I spent 40 minutes in a supermarket today & wondered what it would be like never to escape. But I hope the “barbaric, tuneless pagan rite” does not allude to The Rite of Spring. (I suspect it does, though.) My favorite line is the last of “Solitude”: great joke! 2 questions: 1) Should the last line of “Steps” begin with a quotation mark? 2) Were you thinking of R-K’s “Flight of the Bumblebee,” Vaughan Williams’s music for The Wasps, or is there an R-K piece I don’t know? (Not that it matters for the success of the poem!) Reply Peter Austin July 21, 2021 Julian: Thanks for the encouraging feedback. I confess that the ‘barbaric, tuneless, pagan rite’ was a reference to the Rite of Spring, but I was expressing a point of view not my own: I rather like the music. I was also thinking of The Flight of the Bumblebee, but I figured wasps were somehow more fitting for the poem. And, yes, the last line of ‘Steps’ should have begun with a quotation mark. Ah, me…! Peter Austin Reply Cynthia Erlandson July 21, 2021 Yes, I agree with C.B. — but I especially identify with “Muzak”! So many times when I’ve got away from dreadful mall muzak, I try to put some Vivaldi in my mental cd player (never Stravinsky, though….:)) I love the rhyme of Neanderthal / mall / gall. Reply Julian D. Woodruff July 22, 2021 Never Stravinsky, Ms Erlandson? I admit, he may not be the best foil to Muzak, but what about the Symphony of Psalms, the slow movements of the Violin Concerto, Apollo, or Orpheus? Reply BDW July 30, 2021 The striking part of Mr. Austin’s “With How Sad Steps” are those of Elizabethan Philip Sidney (1554-1586). Those first four words alone fascinate, because they remain modern; but who in the NewMillennium would think them so? With No Sad Steps by Wilude Scabere With no sad steps, the Moon arises in the distant skies, unheard by human ears, a pale colour to these eyes, there in the heavens where no Cupid shoots his arrows forth, nor long-with-love-acquainted eyes attempts to find true North. Here is no love. No languished grace can be read in such looks. Its state descries naught where it f-lies, though it be found in books. The Moon can’t speak of constant love, as Juliet made clear, nor are proud beauties loved as here they are, o, loved so dear. Possessing neither love, scorn, virtue or ungratefulness, I wonder even if the Moon displays indifference. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.