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Instead, she was energetic, animated, and fully engaged in our conversation. Join the rest of us, and joy may come, and make its test of us.She described having seen, at the museum that morning, a glass bowl three-thousand years old, and she commented more than once on how remarkable it was that anything so fragile could have survived so long without breaking. Now you reel & brawl in your cell but I’m deaf to your rages, your greed to go solo, your eloquent threats of worse things you (knowing me) could do. It’s not everyone who can write energetic sonnets that threaten and yell back at their own metaphorical hearts.Beginning poets often go wrong with the tonal register of a modern sonnet, believing that the formal elements go hand in hand with heightened diction, when what the successful modern sonnet needs is a more conversational tone (“…you punk…”) to help readers relax.Even the ampersand, rather than the word “and,” helps the sonnet feel more comfortably modern. As many critics have pointed out, the poem is constructed with the very tools it rejects – it is an act of artifice (written in rhymed iambic tetrameter) but does not feel artificial.During those years, she divorced her husband, the French artist Claude Ponsot, and raised the children as a single parent.
Ida until she hits 60 and loses it (since she’s supposed to be losing it, loses it). But now she can hear in the distance some new thing, surprising. Kniving & shouting, she heads up her dancing girls’ streaming sorority….
The family picture, wrecked, soaked in cold, would slip wet & dangling out of its frame. There are three tercets, with repeating end-words as follows: ABC, CAB, BCA. If you can do it as gracefully as Ponsot does, and enjoy it as you do it, my hat is off to you. Seamus Heaney reproduced that drum-beat of Old English in his translation of Beowulf (two beats on each side of a central caesura): …sand churned in the surf, warriors loaded a cargo of weapons, shining war-gear in the vessels hold, then heaved out away with a will in the wood-wreathed ship.
The envoi – a single line – must include all those end words in their original ABC order. “The delicious realization that what someone’s reading aloud is a sestina gives you a little kick in the back of your ear,” says Ponsot of the form that causes much teeth-grinding to lesser poets. Over the waves, with the wind behind her, and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird….
The adjective “undersung” attached to her name might be explained by the hyphenated adjective at the beginning of the biographical notes in Contemporary Authors Online: “In the course of her career, Ponsot has published several widely-spaced collections of her work…” [emphasis is mine]. Five children gathered around their mother, and all appear to be under seven or eight years old.
When I look at this photo (and I have looked at it plenty – I kept a copy of it taped up on the file cabinet near my computer for a few years) I think of Robert Mc Closkey’s Caldecott-award-winning picture book Make Way for Ducklings, especially everyone’s favorite page in that book, the one showing all the ducklings walking in a row: “One day, the ducklings hatched out.