.

On the Divine Mercy

Seven times the just man falls, and rises again.

—Proverbs 24:16

by Eustache Deschamps (1346-1406)
translated by Margaret Coats

The just man seven times a day offends,
Says Solomon’s poetic apothegm.
What then of the unjust, who wrongly spends
His life in crimes that holy laws condemn?
__He makes a trial of every vice,
Sins gravely, and thinks nothing of the price.
Though pity, grace, and mercy are all free
To chastened souls who heed benign advice,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

The man who wants to change, through Free Will bends
His course from Cain’s drift into paths of Shem.
The fear of God a better life portends,
Not black or yellow bile or blood or phlegm;
__The stars play at no games of dice
With us, nor are we held in Fortune’s vise.
To choose the right road is our guarantee;
When byways on the left a man entice,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

Free Will decides on actions toward our ends,
Foul Babylon or fair Jerusalem;
We merit hell or heaven as life intends
Increasingly to purchase one of them.
__This world is not a paradise,
But earth with filthy soil and slippery ice,
Where enemies envenom God’s good tree;
Unless a man reject satanic lies,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

The poor in spirit God’s own word commends,
But careless wealth disdains poor Bethlehem,
Relieves no beggar who on alms depends,
And lets no leper touch its garment hem.
__Yet men lose riches in a trice:
In hell, one vainly begs for comfort twice
And sees a leper sharing Abraham’s glee.
Whoever slights rich graces that suffice,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

Still, sacred lore our weakness comprehends.
Despairing, we can read this hope-filled gem:
The just man seven times a day transcends
His fault, and rising, gains his diadem.
__A contrite heart and tearful eyes
Must weep for pardon in self-sacrifice,
For God wills us to know our destiny.
The wretch without compunction’s fragrant spice,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

Princes, the good man earns large dividends;
The bad has less, the longer he contends.
The good stands tall; the bad stoops in degree;
Therefore do good, and have the saints for friends.
A knave, too proud for pity God extends,
He will be damned, and reason will agree.

.

Translator’s note: Where the second stanza highlights free will, I as translator express the emphasis by denying medieval deterministic ideas. These include a lack of free choice due to the influence of the stars or unalterable Fortune, or because the four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) govern a man’s temperament and thus his actions. The four humors and corresponding temperaments (melancholic, choleric, sanguine, and phlegmatic) remain a classic backdrop to theories of personality types and human motivation.

Original French

Septies enim cadet justus, et resurget.

Sept fois le jour chiet le juste en peché,
Selon le dit de l’escripture sainte.
Que fera donc le pecheur enteché
Si mortalement de mortel playe mainte,
Qui est a tout vice enclin,
Percevereux sans regarder le fin?
Se pitié n’est, grace et misericorde,
Mercy crians, repentans de cuer fin,
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

Chascun de nous a Franc Vouloir fiché
Dedens son cuer, si devons avoir crainte
De faire mal qui nous est reprouché.
Paour de Dieu soit en noz cuers emprainte;
Soyons saige pellerin.
A main dextre prenons le droit chemin,
A senestre laissons la vil voye orde,
Car qui la suit, selon le droit divin,
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

Bien et mal est a chascun balancé,
Dont Franc Vouloir tient la queue et l’estrainte,
Du quel qu’il veult puet prendre le marché,
Merite a bien et le mal a complainte;
Le monde est le faulx jardin
Ou nous cueillons le perilleux roisin
Dont l’ennemi nous atrape a sa corde;
Qui bien ne fait et laisse ce hutin
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

L’escripture le nous a prononcié
Par le ladre et le riche o sa plainte:
Au moins fu li riches soushaucié,
Le ladre non, brief fu la chose tainte.
Eulx trepassez fu affin
Riches d’enfer et ladre fu voisin
Saint Abraham en gloire. Or te recorde
Que qui mal fait sanz grace en la parfin
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

Aussi nous a l’escripture anoncié
Qu’ame ne soit de desespoir emprainte:
Sept fois de jour le juste est redrecié,
Et le pecheur, quant sanz pensée fainte
Pleure et congnoist son destin,
Dieux est piteux au soir et au matin
A pardonner nul temps ne le descorde.
Mercy crions! Qui mal fera cy fin
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

Princes, le bien est tousjours avancié,
Et le mal est en paine trebuchié,
Le bien monte, le mal descent sanz orde;
Faisons donc bien, si serons soushaucié.
Qui mal fera, se Dieu n’en a pitié,
Dampnez sera, et raison s’i accorde.

.

.

Margaret Coats lives in California.  She holds a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University.  She has retired from a career of teaching literature, languages, and writing that included considerable work in homeschooling for her own family and others. 


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29 Responses

  1. Roy Eugene Peterson

    I became aware of your awesome maintenance of the rhyme scheme by the second verse and marveled at your miraculously mellifluous translation! I do not know much French, but I could ascertain your faithfulness to the words and the rhyme throughout the poem with your unparalleled vocabulary. The message is a powerful one and I am thankful you chose this poem to translate.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks, Roy! This surely is the most direct and powerful refrain written by the medieval poet in the ten volumes he left us. It straightforwardly threatens damnation to anyone who neglects God’s freely available mercy, and declares this to be in accord with reason. Deschamps writes a great deal about human failings, but here the focus is on individual responsibility. What you call my “unparalleled vocabulary” comes from the Bible, because Deschamps chose that as background to invest his poem with authority. My words paraphrase his, following a structure he chose. I plan to explain further because of Joseph Salemi’s comment on my using expressions the French poet does not use, so please see more below if you’re interested.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Translating a complex piece like this, and maintaining both the rhyme scheme and fidelity to the original text’s meaning, takes great skill. Margaret has shown her talent in these areas time and again.

    Concerning that second stanza — I understand your point, Margaret, about focusing on medieval deterministic ideas, and denying that fortune, astrology, or bodily humors are decisive in matters of salvation. And I’m sure that if Deschamps were here, he would agree with what you wrote. But I’m just wondering — it’s an open question, to be sure — whether we as translators have the right to add ideas or develop implications in a work that are not specifically there in the original. Of course, we all do it in some minor ways when we have to get a rhyme or keep our syntax intelligible. But to recast a writer’s opinions in a different way, using words and thoughts that he himself did not choose to express, seems dicey.

    This came to mind recently, when I was re-reading John Gower’s Confessio Amantis, and noticed that Gower would take mythological stories from Ovid and other ancient writers and tell them in ways that were completely foreign, in thought and intention, to what those stories said in the original Latin. Sometimes he completely missed the point of the original text. Other times he deliberately misconstrued the stories to serve a Christian purpose. Other times he added incidents and characters that just weren’t there, or gave the stories a moral that was in no way compatible with the original text’s meaning. Now of course he wasn’t translating — just adapting the material for a medieval audience. But the thing struck me as somehow illegitimate and irritating.

    This is no objection at all to your translation, which is both clear and powerful, and perfectly consonant with what Deschamps was arguing. And maybe stanza 2 was a hard nut to crack in terms of maintaining the fixed rhyme scheme.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thanks for your appreciation and objection, Joe. Both are important, and I hope to answer the objection later, when I have more time from unpacking after vacation.

      Reply
  3. Yael

    Thank you for another great translation Margaret. I really enjoy reading these old poems in a language which makes them easier for me to access and appreciate. It’s so interesting to read about what people were thinking and writing so many years ago. I’m awed by your poetic translation skills!

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Yael, many thanks for your comment. As you say, these older poems are of great value for the perspective they give us. Those from the Middle Ages offer a thousand years of truth, goodness, and beauty from a point of view we cannot replicate, even when we share their faith and their confidence in reason. It is wonderful to have the poets (as well as the saints they venerated) for friends!

      Reply
  4. Monika Cooper

    It’s a rich page you translate for us, Margaret, and what a weird refrain for a poem about Divine Mercy: “He will be damned and reason will agree.”

    There is a felt turn with the word “Still,” leading to the supreme lines about the just man rising again seven times a day, through repentance, seeking mercy. “For God wills us to know our destiny”: not an easy line. He wills us to choose the right, knowing it is right and because it is right and knowing the reward? The French looks like it might say something somewhat different.

    The last stanza is addressed to “Princes” and the spiritual counsel given in secular terms. Which I love — and I hope we may all have the saints for friends. They are very approachable and generous with their loves.

    Reply
    • Monika Cooper

      When I say “the French looks like it might say something somewhat different,” I don’t mean it as a criticism of your translation. I am interested both in what you meant by the line as you presented it and in what the original French meant.

      Some poetic translations are almost new poems made from the material of a text from another language and others are a strict literal rendering. I think both are completely valid, as very different endeavors, and also that every shade between the two can have value. It seems to me that preserving an original rhyme scheme is painstaking work that will practically necessitate deviations from following the original in a word by word or even sentence by sentence manner.

      What you’ve given us here is beautiful and, if it excites questions, about the original and about its own meaning, that’s a further sign of its success.

      The decisions and labor that go into making a translation like this are a source of admiration and fascination for me.

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Monika, thank you for both your comments. This is an answer to the first one, where you have pointed out the difficult line, “For God wills us to know our destiny.” It is difficult, because with the poem’s focus on Free Will, we could translate here, “God wills us to choose our destiny,” or “God wills us to earn our destiny.” You have done me the great favor of pointing out a line where I chose to keep the exact French word “cognoist.” French has two verbs for “know,” and the one used here by Deschamps means “recognize” (see “cogn” in the French and in the English derivative). God does want us to choose or earn our destiny, but we need to do so by recognizing Him as that destiny, as we do in the answer to the question, “Why did God make me?” The correct answer is that God made me to KNOW, love, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy forever with Him in the next. Even though I could have focused more sharply on free will by putting another word here, this is one of the places where I stayed with the French poet’s precise word, in order to render his full meaning! Thank you for everything your careful reading recognizes in this first comment of yours, including the weirdness of the refrain threatening damnation. But then, what is divine about mercy, if it does not save us from a terrible fate we deserve when we fail to accept what God does for us!

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Monika, I would like to express gratitude again, this time for outlining your views on the value of translations, strict or not. Yours is certainly the better view to take, when we consider the immense array of poems we cannot read, unless someone takes the trouble to render them in a language we know. And, of course, renders them as poems–not as the garble one receives when pressing the “translate” button on a foreign language poetry page. This computer-garble is often similar to word-for-word prose translations in dictionary-style.

      I had not intended the presentation of this Deschamps work to begin a discussion on legitimate translation, but it is useful, and as you are kind enough to say, a sign of success. Since you take an interest in the “decisions and labor” involved, I would suggest, when you have time, a look at my “Comparing Translations of Charles d’Orleans,” an essay where I intended not only to talk about, but to SHOW, how different poetic translators approached a single very short work (12 lines as opposed to the 51 lines here). You will probably enjoy comparing eight different versions of the very famous French poem. Don’t miss the one by Evan Mantyk in his Comment, or the TWO present in the link to Michael R. Burch’s work. As well, note that Brian Yapko in his Comment decided to make a word-for-word literal translation which, in his opinion, “sucked all the poetry out of the poem.”

      I am more convinced than ever that an effort to “translate” or maintain the original form is essential to good translation, when it is possible. At the end of the Orleans essay, there is a poem which is not a translation with necessary deviations, but an adaptation that begins with the medieval French poem and goes on in another direction. The very lack of original form is what identifies this piece as NOT a translation.

      Reply
      • Monika Cooper

        I will have a look at “Comparing Translations of Charles d’Orleans.” I’m sure I will enjoy it. Thank you.

  5. Margaret Coats

    This comment refers back to that of Joseph Salemi, concerning whether “we as translators” have the right to develop implications in a work that are not “specifically” there in the original. If our goal is word-for-word translation we do not, but word-for-word translation never renders the full meaning even of the words alone. Words even in prose always have implications, and some are always missed in translation. In poetry, there are more implications, and in poetry I believe it is also important to render the form.

    Furthermore, I may choose (as I did here) to render the poem rather than the words. This does not mean to neglect the words, but to attend to the lines and the stanzas and the whole of the piece. AND THAT DOES NOT MEAN TO RENDER THE MEANING ONLY. It means exactly what I said–to attend to everything. With some poems I achieve a close rendering that satisfies text-hugging literalists. But in every case, I achieve a new poem that is not by the original author, but by me. Translators of poetry do that whether they like it or not–except for those who wish only to render “meaning” and not form. I feel sorry for them because they give up the poetry in the original, and potentially in themselves, to come up with a dictionary-style product.

    If you like, Joe, call this poem of mine an adaptation of Deschamps. And let me explain how I think I succeeded at making it a translation. And remember, I’m only talking about THIS POEM. It’s unique because it’s the only piece I know by the author where he selects a “texte” as “authority.” He wants authority, but he wants to interpret. The Biblical proverb is his first line; his refrain is his interpretation (that is, his “authorized” view of what happens to the unjust man who falls as often as does the just one in the proverb, but under different conditions). The likelihood of the unjust fellow’s damnation is the point he wants to hammer home.

    In the first stanza, Deschamps does not “specifically” say anything about Solomon. He says the proverb comes from holy scripture. Now can I say “Solomon,” and refer to a recognized author of holy scripture? The name is not literally there, but it makes the point. The proverb is divinely inspired–and Deschamps goes on to ask about the unjust man not specifically mentioned in scripture. The French poet has scripture in mind (although we don’t know which words) when he says the unjust man will be damned if he doesn’t avail himself of mercy. It’s a rational conclusion, not one backed up by a text in the immediate context.

    My first stanza is probably acceptable despite calling the proverb “Solomon’s apothegm” with no authority from Deschamps. But I didn’t do that just to use my chosen rhyme sound. It carries out the meaning of the Deschamps line. The second stanza is the problem: not only the stars, Fortune, and the four humors, but Cain and Shem, none mentioned (out loud) by the French poet. He wants to talk about Free Will, which is the way the unjust guy can get out of his damned predicament. And where do we find Free Will? In the heart, fixed there by God, though God is not mentioned as fixer or imprinter. In each heart, in our hearts, which should fear God (specifically mentioned here). Now I speak of Free Will and the fear of God, but because stanza 2 is repetitive, I have room for other things that might be in that bodily heart, the seat of the emotions that rule the body, just as reason should rule those emotions. This is the body stanza. This is where emotions have to make the Cain versus Shem choice. It may not be okay to bring in Cain and Shem and the blood and the phlegm, but these words of mine make the very point Deschamps makes about Free Will and the heart that needs the fear of God to make rational choices (and to avoid idolatrous ones). And we still have room for the significant directions right and left, which are literally present in the poem. Too many extraneous words, but they come in during the correct stanza for them, and back up the French poet’s focus on what should be in the heart.

    Notice that Free Will is still the main concern in stanza 3, where Deschamps at last brings in words that allude to Original Sin. They are scattered rather than connected, just as mine are. Allusion is the method in this stanza, and the backdrop is Eden. I use the same method as the French poet, but employ different words to make similar suggestions about the dangers and temptations to which Free Will is subject.

    Reply
  6. Joshua C. Frank

    Great one, Margaret! Obviously as Catholics we know that the content is true, but you’ve written it well in English verse, as if you had written it yourself in English, and translated the French well. (It’s always interesting to see how little the French language has changed since the Middle Ages.) I also like your explanation of why you’ve diverged a bit from the original in certain places.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Joshua, thank you for your attention to this poem that presents doctrinal and Biblical truth in what seems to be a threatening mode. Deschamps knew (perhaps not quite as well as we do!) that some individuals need to hear threats and feel fear because they have no regard for a milder, more sentimental style, even when the merciful message is the same. I also very much appreciate your judgment that mine is a good English poem as well as a good translation of French. Like Yael, you read French fluently, and also like her, you have paid particular attention to the essay (on a poem by Charles d’Orleans) where I discussed translation questions. Since the Orleans poem was shorter, we could even consider statistical variants between eight translations–all of which introduce English expressions not present in the French. It’s as if translations are chocolate bars with varying percentages of cacao (the original language), having different flavors, yet all recognized as candy bars. They haven’t turned the cacao powder into hot cocoa or cake flavoring or chocolate mousse, as adaptations in another form would do. As I recall, those eight translations of the famous Orleans lyric even varied the form slightly (one line more or less), but did not branch out to versify other material, as did the single adaptation I had found. Thanks as always for your concern with these poetic issues that touch on your own translation practice.

      Reply
  7. BDW

    as per Uc de Bewel Airs:

    Why was Ezra Pound (who was not Catholic) drawn to Medieval French poetry? Did his reasons coincide with some of yours?

    Also, because I don’t read many comments, I must admit I don’t “recall” a little controversy in the comments a few years back, when someone claimed another poet’s work was not a sonnet.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Sir Uc, medieval French poetry is attractive to anyone who can read it because of its vast range of beautiful forms and inspiring topics. My aim in translating is to supply some very small sense of that. In English medieval poetry, we lost much in the destruction of monastic libraries. But to answer about Ezra Pound in particular, he was most attracted to Provencal poetry because the troubadours were unashamed to celebrate the glories of war and the alpha-male exuberance in all its trappings and military exercises. All that naturally accompanied a forthright masculine view of love, and a clear view of corruption that troubadour poets had no fear of satirizing in direct language. As you can see, all this is tangential (but related!) to adherence to the Catholic faith (a unifying and certain truth worth fighting for).

      Concerning my own attraction for medieval French poetry, I feel at home with poets capable of expressing the Faith and ideals we share. My ability to read the language is probably much greater than Pound’s, who doesn’t seem to have devoted as much study to it. But who can say? He had very wide interests, and didn’t leave us much in lyrical expression of them. As you know, I prefer the Personae to his modernist experiments, and the Cantos from his later life are far less interesting than the range of medieval French poetry. I share his Oriental interests from my years of life in Japan and months of travel elsewhere, while Pound had to make do with notes by others about poetry he could not read at all, and an atmosphere he never experienced.

      As one Catholic speaker says, being Catholic should make a difference in the way you comb your hair. I have a reputation as a Catholic poet here at SCP, even though two-thirds of my posts concern subjects that are not religious in themselves. And of course my literary studies necessarily dealt with all of English and American literature (mostly not Catholic). But because a saint once described Catholic truth as being what has always been taught everywhere by everyone [Catholic!], I can easily find a sense of communion with any SCP writer or reader dismayed at the abandonment of classical ideals in society and literature.

      Please let me save your question on the SCP “sonnet” controversy for a later comment box!

      Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Bruce, I have searched for the “sonnet controversy” remarks and been unable to find them. They may have been removed at the request of the poet whose sonnet was criticized. That policy was something clarified (if not originated) at the time. As I know from my own experience, removing a single comment results in the disappearance of others that were part of the course of discussion.

      Therefore, let me summarize without naming names. A sonnet was criticized as a weak vehicle for thoughts inspired by the subject matter. The criticism shifted somewhat when the critic acknowledged the excellence of some sonnets, but then claimed that the poem under discussion was “not a sonnet.” Others objected that the poem could certainly be recognized as a sonnet by its form. The critic then brought forward a famed sonnet in praise of sonnets, implying that the poem in question didn’t deserve such praise–and by implication was not a sonnet.

      As you can see, the course of criticism in this discussion demanded that the poem be among the best of its kind. This was hardly fair. SCP posts present recent work accepted by the editor as worthy of notice by interested readers. These may include poems that are good or merely competent, or inferior, or even ones that are failures in some respect. I myself nearly always find something of artistic value even when I do not like the style or substance of things we post. And considering the course of literary history, we need to admit there are many bad or mediocre poems that nevertheless deserve a place in it. And as a matter of courtesy, we often focus on good points rather than make condemnations of work presented by our fellow poets. In fact, I consider that finding the good points in others’ work is both worthwhile and pleasant!

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        In both the cases that Mike Bryant has unearthed, it was MacKenzie who started the controversy by insisting that the posted piece was “not a sonnet.”

        I don’t know why he should have done this, other than a species of dogmatic truculence.

      • Margaret Coats

        Thank you, Mike and Joe, for finding this material. What I had remembered was only the Saint John Southworth sonnet by Peter Hartley. That may have been the beginning of the issue, but it did not include any assertion that the sonnet was not a sonnet. In fact, it was there that Mr. MacKenzie appeared to think the subject of martyrdom too lofty for the scope of a sonnet. As Dr. Salemi pointed out at the time, MacKenzie himself has written many sonnets on lofty religious themes. Divine sonnets in sequence certainly became a part of sonnet tradition very early.

        I notice that the opposite objection (the topic is too low for the form) is made about Hartley’s sonnet on rats. This suggests that MacKenzie was thinking in terms of classically appropriate poetic forms for the high, middle, and low styles. The love sonnet in particular was thought to be suited to middle style–but at our present stage in literary history, with use of the sonnet long ago stretched to every kind of subject matter, the distinction is not particularly useful.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Yes, Margaret — you’re right. I had completely forgotten that poem on Southworth by Peter Hartley, and how puzzled I was by MacKenzie’s attitude. So this is a third instance of his rejection of a sonnet on some spurious grounds.

        I think the sonnet form was so special to him that he could not bear to see it being used in a manner that he did not approve.

  8. BDW

    Not a Sonnet
    by Uc de Bewel Airs

    I like Ms. Coats translation of Deschamps,
    how she retains the rhyming scheme as such,
    rich diction Biblic’lly inspired and lush,
    the way she charges words with calming charm,
    and adds in Solomon with Abraham,
    and other gems as well, there is so much,
    from her devotion to the author’s touch
    to proverbs on their way to being psalms.
    And when, she brings his poem from the past,
    renewing its signicance and cast
    to show us, in the New Millennium,
    why his words still retain significance,
    I must decline to praise too much because
    it’s how I’d do it too, to render him…
    though I be damned and judged to lasting shame.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Thank you once more, Sir Uc de Bewel Airs, for this highly complimentary “not a sonnet.” I am glad you appreciate my translation of the Deschamps chant royal, and certainly would not consider you damned for 15 lines with irregular rhymes. Should you be at risk for any reason with which Deschamps is actually concerned, please accept an Ave Maria on my part!

      Reply
  9. BDW

    as per Uc de Bewel Airs:

    1.Perhaps because the rhymes seem irregular, the fabric of abbaabbaccdeed…f, in “Not a Sonnet”, does not present itself to the reader. There is a joy in slant rhyme, which ever pulls against “jingling”, when drifting and shifting into prose (a Realist, Modernist, PostModern and NewMillennial wave), and vice versa, “to proverbs on their way to being psalms”, the charged hymn/lyric.

    2.The expression “praise too much” comes from Ben Johnson, a phrase he used.

    3.The last line comes from words that spewed forth from the construction of “Not a Sonnet”: damned, judged, and last… each for various reasons; and

    4.”Shame”, though linked as well, is more emphatically frisson, which elicited an Ave Maria on the part of Ms. Coats.

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Excuse me, Bruce, I should have said “imperfect” rhymes (i.e., slant rhymes) rather than “irregular,” which implies that you presented an irregular rhyme scheme. In fact, your rhyme scheme in the first 14 lines is the regular one most common in French sonnets, though it is rare here at SCP and (I believe) among sonnets written in English.

      “Imperfect” to my mind does not imply any flaw. It just acknowledges that a perfect rhyme consists of a vowel sound and a consonant sound that are exactly the same in both rhymed words. For example, your “b” rhyme words in “Not a Sonnet” are “such,” “touch,” “lush,” and “much.” Three rhyme perfectly because they have a short “u” with the “tch” consonant sound. “Lush” rhymes imperfectly with the others because it combines short “u” with the similar consonant sound “sh.” As you say, imperfect or slant rhymes can help to avoid a jingling effect of perfect rhyme. I consider “jingling” a problem mainly when the words chosen do not suit the meaning or imagery of the poem or the sentence structure. My “b” rhyme words above (rhyming on “em”) don’t jingle, I think, because the meaning is apropos and they suit the Biblical backdrop chosen by Deschamps.

      Your “Not a Sonnet” is not in sonnet form because of the 15th line. You had a particular purpose for the addition to the usual number, which produces the effect of your poem. Not at all a damnable offense, but a legitimate artistic choice. We might call the form a variation upon the sonnet, like the 18-liners in which some poets add a quatrain. However, there are so many 14-line sonnets that vast numbers of variations of different sorts (meter, rhyme scheme, location of the turn) can be found among them. Thus it seems most practical to discuss examples like yours as “not sonnets” (because not conforming to the recognized form) even when the title indicates an intended relationship–achieved by a poet’s choice.

      Again, thanks for the contribution!

      Reply
  10. Angelica

    Absolutely wonderful poem that rings truth. I must share this!

    Reply
    • Margaret Coats

      Glad you hear the sound of the bell, Angelica! I think the French author chose the refrain as a very loud ringer.

      Reply

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