an Alfred Dorn sonnet

As candles gently glow in amber light
The picture centered high upon the wall
appears to take a life form of its own.

Yet, thoughts of her are stronger on this night.
He views her fleeting image in the hall,
as he sits drunk, contented and alone.

He rises, sets the glass upon the sink.
She appears only when he takes a drink.

Yet thoughts of her are stronger on this night
He stumbles through the hall to hesitate
then tremble as his body chokes with fright

to see her form begin to levitate,
sprout angels’ wings then suddenly take flight,
while he remains to curse the hand of fate.



The Spectral Lines

a rondelet

The spectral lines
through prisms solely lovers’ view.
The spectral lines,
where mass and energy combine.
The nearer red, the distant blue,
two separate hearts that meld into
the spectral lines



Tamara Beryl Latham is a retired Research and Development chemist who is originally from Brisbane, Australia, but currently resides in Virginia. Tamara was the Forum Moderator for Metric Poetry on the Moontown Cafe.com internet site. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, anthologies and literary reviews. 

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

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

21 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    I’m very happy to see an Alfred Dorn sonnet. I was a good friend of Alfred and his wife Anita, and the creation of a new poetic form was only one of the countless things that Alfred did to resuscitate metrical poetry in those long dark years of free-verse hegemony. His annual competitions, his workshops for students, his bountiful hospitality at his home in Flushing, and above all his generosity with both advice and support for poets, should never be forgotten.

    Placing a rhyming couplet smack-dab in the middle of the poem was a brilliant variation, typical of Dorn’s ever-energetic mind. Latham’s expert use of it here in “Obsession” shows how it functions almost as a caesura in a line, or more dramatically, as an entr’acte in a play.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe S., thank you very much for imparting with your knowledge of Alfred Dorn. He sounds a wonderful character. I am impelled to look up some of his works.

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Dear Joseph S.,

      Thank you for your kind words and I’m elated to find you were a personal friend of both Alfred Dorn and his wife, Anita.

      You should know I stumbled upon the Alfred Dorn sonnet quite accidentally when I was initially attempting to write a few sonnets.

      As well, I find it hard to believe Alfred Dorn lived in Flushing, N.Y. Although I was born in Brisbane, Australia, I grew up in Manhattan and later Queens, N.Y.
      I attended CUNY (both York and Queens colleges). Flushing was a stone’s throw from Queens college.

      Formal poets should be familiar with all forms of classical poetry, including the Alfred Dorn Sonnet and I’m glad you enjoyed my attempt at it.

      What I failed to mention is the rhyme scheme.(abcabc ee aeaeae) or (abcabc dd efefef). The rules are found on this site: https://poetscollective.org/everysonnet/dorn-sonnet/

      Thanks for reading and replying. I appreciate your time and effort. 🙂

  2. Margaret Coats

    Both poems are smoothly written and splendidly eerie. And as a lover of poetry’s “fair forms,” I have a special appreciation of how well you have used a recently created form, and one that has centuries of tradition behind it (although there are fewer examples of the rondelet than of some other round forms).

    Having studied optics as a physics major, I have some notion of the imagery in “The Spectral Lines,” but you are moving far and fast into the science of love with this brief poem. With no complete sentence, it leaves a great deal to the careful thought and interpretation of the reader, I would say. Still, I love the concept.

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Margaret C. ,

      Thank you for your informative comments. I appreciate them.

      As a physics major, I’m certain you’ve completely understood “The Spectral Lines” and I’m looking forward to reading your first attempt at the Rondelet.

      Thanks again for your time and effort. 🙂

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      You’re welcome, Paul and thank you for having taken the time to read and
      respond. 🙂

  3. Cheryl Corey

    I’ll never forget how, upon receiving a check for winning one of his competitions, Dr. Dorn included a kind note. He said that he was exhausted when he returned home. He obviously gave so much of himself to the world of poetry, so it’s lovely, Tamara, that you composed a sonnet that honors his memory.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Alfred did so much to help other poets that he sometimes neglected his own work. When Carolyn Raphael and I went through his papers for preparation for their transfer to the Poetry Collection at SUNY Buffalo, we discovered many excellent (but unpublished or else unfinished) poems of Dorn. I published a number of them in TRINACRIA.

      • Tamara Beryl Latham

        Joseph S.,

        Well, I can’t imagine the amount of work that must have been for you, although you probably enjoyed it.

        Are or were you a Professor at SUNY?

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Cheryl C.,

      Thank you for such a kind note.

      To be honest, both you and Joseph S. certainly know more about Dr. Alfred Dorn than I ever did. I’m happy to know he was such a giant in the world of poetry and we’re keeping his name in the spotlight, even if by chance. 🙂

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        No, I work at NYU and Hunter College (CUNY). After Dorn’s death, his papers were collected and arranged by myself and his long-time friend and colleague, Prof. Carolyn Raphael, in order to let them be preserved in The Poetry Collection at SUNY Buffalo, which is the largest and oldest poetry archive in the United States. The job did take several months of complicated and exhausting work, but Carolyn and I thought that we owed it to Alfred’s memory.

  4. Allegra Silberstein

    Thanks for your beautiful poems. You have introduced me to a poet I didn’t know with your sonnet.

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Allegra S.,

      You are quite welcome and thank you for your comment.

      Now I’m looking forward to seeing one of your Alfred Dorn sonnets. 🙂

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I am a huge fan of sonnets, and your beautifully written “Obsession” has inspired me to try my hand at the Alfred Dorn variety. I like the use of repetition and the repeating line in your poem is used to excellent effect. I also love your playful and intriguing rondelet… I’m going to be a very busy poetry bee thanks to you, Tamara. You’ve made my Monday afternoon!

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Dear Susan,

      Thank you for your time and effort in commenting.

      As I’m finding from this site, you are a great poet and you should try your hand at the Alfred Dorn sonnet. Since it’s a little different than the other forms you will enjoy it immensely. The rondelet is so short, you will have fun with that form as well.

      Thanks again for responding. I appreciate it. 🙂

  6. C.B. Anderson

    I make “Obsession” out to be a great example of what can be made out of light-handed images arrayed in a subtle garland. The mood is not heavy and dire, but poignant and illuminating.

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Dear C.B. Anderson,

      What a beautiful sentiment.

      Your words, along with their imagery, are a classic example of what the poet is able to do with a pen. Bravo!

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  7. David Watt

    “Obsession” is a very well balanced poem. Maybe it is due to the pivoting
    central couplet; but more likely the logical progression of vivid description.

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      Dear David,

      Thank you for your time. 🙂

      Yes, I believe you are correct, referencing a balancing act.

      The couplet (at the center of the poem) is similar to the diver’s spring board in a dive that sets up the swimmer’s entrance into the water. The amount of splash, along with the swimmer’s form, determines the greatness of the dive.

      • Tamara Beryl Latham

        Cheryl, did you win one of the Alfred Dorn sonnet competitions. Your reply seems to indicate you did. If so, congratulations. I’m honored to know of you.

        Thanks again for your response. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

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