even the word “sonnet” isn’t an iamb

To pen a sonnet: not for faint of heart!
That perfect phrase you love? It doesn’t fit.
To count to ten is not the hardest part –
Those tempting trochees are the toughest bit.

First weak, then strong, a meter dignified;
You’re confident your rhythm cannot fail.
A single strong-weak word you try to hide.
“I hate Bill S!” you soon begin to wail.

Delete those letters foul that don’t conform,
Erase the rhymes that take you from your task.
The syllables you type will soon transform,
But if they don’t, seek wisdom from your flask.

Just when you think the torture will not end,
Your wretched fourteenth line is thusly penned.


Dedicated to all the brave souls fighting iambic pentameter for the yeah write February poetry slam.

I must have struck a chord.


23 thoughts on “even the word “sonnet” isn’t an iamb

  1. Hey! Long time no see (read?)!
    Great post, though I must admit I cannot relate. My poetry writing skills (or lack thereof) cause me to give up long before I encounter the words “rhythm” 🙂
    Keep up the great stuff!


    1. I understand. Anyone can slap together fourteen lines, but it takes time and effort to craft a sonnet within the rules for meter and rhyme. Still, we can learn a lot from trying things that aren’t easy.


  2. Thanks for this. It cheered me to read that a gifted writer like you sometimes struggles with given forms but can make fun of the struggle. I say this because, for some reason I’ll never understand, I enrolled in writing 201: poetry, which requires a posted poem every day for two weeks, and I am unsure of poetry. But I’ll struggle on.


  3. This is amazing!! I am so impressed with your carefully crafted complaints about this annoying poetic form 🙂 “That perfect phrase you love? It doesn’t fit.” No kidding. That line says it all! I’m also quite partial to your suggestion to take to the flask.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Several of the editors were remarking about their struggles with sonnets last week, and it just sparked this poem. And an epiphany: all those years that I taught music, I was always using language to teach rhythm. It required precise understand of which syllable has to be emphasized. That practice serves me well in following the rules of meter in verse.


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