| General Poetry
posted April 30, 2018
A Crown of Heroic Sonnets for the contest
This snake that came was only seeking life.
Each flicker of his tongue could smell the air;
a sense that's honed to sharpness like a knife,
to slice the still of night and lay it bare,
but stones were loose and, as he was near blind,
they caused his fall into my stagnant well,
whose seven frogs had piqued his hungry mind.
Trapped in an oubliette, a concrete cell
three metres deep, with sides that were so sheer
there was no way that he could scale the walls,
he splashed and flailed about in coils of fear,
as we are apt to do when woe befalls
and sets us panicking. Around, around
the foursquare cell he swam, to seek an out,
but there was none. With fading hope, he found
his fate was sealed; of that, he'd little doubt.
So, on this night, my metaphor was born
as I got up to greet the coming dawn.
As I got up to greet the coming dawn,
I cleansed my thoughts and climbed the higher path,
above the well, but found my senses drawn
towards a sudden ebony of wrath
that swirled up from the depths and made me start.
The redness of his belly was exposed
and his forked tongue held lies to tear apart
my reason, with misgivings undisclosed.
Malevolently, we met each other's gaze;
our venom sacs were filled with conjoint hate,
or was it fear - the core of my malaise?
My instinct was for death, to desecrate
this helpless snake that swirled around the pool.
My firm intent; to shoot or let him drown.
One way was swift and sure; the other, cruel.
Just then he struck, and gulped the first frog down.
I saw his native instinct to survive,
digesting what it takes to stay alive.
Digesting what it takes to stay alive
now made me hesitate to do him harm.
He'd food enough at hand to let him thrive
And, on a beam, a place of rest and calm
for basking in the noonday hours of heat,
as I had, too; imprisoned by my thoughts,
constrained by age - though not by walls - replete
in my small world, with freedom still - of sorts.
When my small store is gone, I will expire,
a fate I thought perhaps we two could share;
two souls with stores of poison, eyes of fire,
impotent now to make our prey beware,
except of course the frogs (reduced to four).
I should forgive him that, his native bent,
for I, like him, am often carnivore
and when there's meat nearby, I am content.
We share some common features, I'll allow,
so I play god, and let him live - for now.
So I play god and let him live for now.
(Forgive the repetition. I am old!)
Where was I in this tale of woe, and how
will these events that I relate unfold?
Ah yes - the sticking point is one of age.
This snake is in his prime, a metre long,
and yearns to roam the world beyond his cage.
He feels vibrations in a heart that's strong,
but soon his frogs will end. So, will he starve?
Unless I intervene, this snake is dead.
My hesitation, based on fear, might halve
his span of years. Yet I am filled with dread.
If I should lift him in a landing net
and scoop him up, at arm's length, on a pole,
I'd be a fool. His freedom I'd regret,
if he should strike my body from my soul.
With one false move, I'm in a six-foot plot.
On second thoughts, I think I'd rather not.
On second thoughts, I think I'd rather not
take such a chance. False reasons now dictate
I'll leave him there and let the devil rot
within my mind, his chosen pit; my fate.
But when a source of evil enters thought,
and settles there to fester and pollute,
our inner peace remains disturbed, and fraught
with guilt that, over time, becomes acute.
Our prejudice is apt to lead astray;
and what we think is evil may be good,
submerged in fear. There is a better way
for those who play at god. A good god would
extend a helping hand and rescue him.
I therefore call a service that saves snakes.
The price that's quoted puts me in a spin;
I baulk at saving souls for such high stakes.
The catcher has a heart to set him free;
she settles, bless her, for a lesser fee.
She settles, bless her, for a lesser fee;
within the hour she brings a hempen pouch,
and not much else, except the guarantee
of youth and confidence. For those, I'll vouch.
The ladder I provide is soon unfurled;
its lower end is sunk in murky slime.
She sets her smartphone up - to show the world -
and then, with nonchalance, begins her climb.
A stripling lass, who's armed with two bare hands,
she urges me to prod so he swims close
for her to grab. Although she understands
his venom sac contains a lethal dose,
she seems to be completely unconcerned.
As he swims past, she catches at his tail.
Her expertise is clear, her craft well learned,
But still I give a shudder, lest she fail.
The bane of age is caution; there's the truth.
It is the gulf dividing age from youth.
It is the gulf dividing age from youth.
Our fears intensify with passing time.
Though we may think our juniors are uncouth,
they sometimes show that we are past our prime.
I capped the price of freedom. Was that right?
I let my fear dictate a course to take
and nearly stooped to murder out of fright.
A younger heart shone light on my mistake,
and gave me cause to think, to ruminate
on why we're here. Compassion came to mind;
a virtue that I've sometimes lost of late.
The world's a better place when we are kind.
I asked her what the snake now had in store.
"Release," she said, "into a habitat
away from human dwellings, to explore
its native bushland, growing old and fat,
away from foolish humans who cause strife.
This snake that came was only seeking life."
Write a Crown of Heroic Sonnets contest entry
The Crown of heroic sonnets is a sequence of seven heroic sonnets usually addressed to one person. It is concerned with a single theme and each sonnet explores a different aspect of the theme and is linked to the preceding and succeeding sonnets by repeating the final line of the preceding sonnet as its first line and by having its final line be the first line of the succeeding sonnet.
and 2 member cents.
The first line of the first sonnet is repeated as the final line of the final sonnet thereby bringing the sequence to a close.
A Heroic Sonnet is an iambic pentameter based poem that adds a heroic couplet to either two Sicilian octave stanzas or four Sicilian quatrain stanzas. In other words, it's eighteen lines of iambic pentameter broken into three or five parts with the last part being a couplet. The rhyme scheme is a,b,a,b,a,b,a,b - c,d,c,d,c,d,c,d - e,e OR a,b,a,b - c,d,c,d - e,f,e,f - g,h,g,h - i,i.
The Red-bellied black snake is tenth on the list of Australia's most deadly snakes. It is a protected species though - as are all Australian reptiles.
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