Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stephen Fry Sonnet

In The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within and elsewhere, British actor, director, and writer Stephen Fry has argued for the enduring power of conventional poetic forms and has claimed that free-verse has led to laziness. It's hard to argue against either point, although I might just add that conventional forms can lead to laziness, too, perhaps of a different kind; for instance, there's something "automatic" about Wordsworth's later sonnets. Anyway, I thought I should write a sonnet with Stephen Fry's name all over it, and perhaps in so doing I'll even support my claim that conventional forms may elicit laziness, too, although I think frivolity is the more prominent quality.


Stephen Fry Sonnet


Hans Ostrom


I've heard it said that Mr. Stephen Fry
Would like more formal poems to be made.
I'm happy to oblige; moreover, I,
As you are witness to, have not delayed,
Have lept into this sonnet form with zest,
Alluding-to, as sonnets do, the glib,
Bright, talented tall man, the best
Portrayer of both Jeeves and Wilde. A squib?
Well, I suppose you could call this poem that.
But there's no rule that says one can't write fast
And pounce upon a formal poem: iambic cat.
Well, as you know, the couplet's what comes last.
Let cups be raised, then, to one Stephen Fry,
Who likes his poems in form and has said why.


I note that I cheated, in a way, by asking the reader to pronounce "poems" in two syllables in line 2 but only in one syllable ("pomes") in line 14. Sonneteers are such cheaters. And makers of terrible puns: note "Let cups" in line 13--couplets/Let cups--oh, the horror, made worse by my being pleased.
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