Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Monday, September 17, 2012

Commissioned Sonnet

Going through old computer-files and -documents, I found a sonnet I'd written that had been commissioned.  Someone from the Politics and Government Department where I teach (U. of Puget Sound) had asked me to write a poem to be read at their departmental graduation-gathering.  This was in 2008.

About all I can say for the sonnet is that it is worth at least what they paid me for it, nothing.

I thought a sonnet--or some traditional form--was appropriate for the occasion. Every so often, I like to write a "commissioned" thing.  It's an interesting challenge.

Commencement Bay is the name of the harbor next to Tacoma.


Sonnet: To Graduating Seniors in Politics and Government



We’ve been the captains of your classes here,
The admirals of your splendid senior theses.
Today we are mere ensigns of good cheer
As you depart these arches, bricks, and trees.

Your learning is your cargo. Politics
And Government’s the dock from which you sail.
The world out there is one we hope you’ll fix.
May warm and fairly traded winds prevail.

Now, after several years at Puget Sound,
You’ll voyage from your own Commencement Bay
To ports where possibilities abound.
With pride we raise a toast to you and say:

In governing your lives, be politic
And always vote for wisdom—that’s the trick.


Hans Ostrom, 2008, 2012
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