Sonnet: “On an offhand comment about sonnets”

For B.F., a former student.

Fourteen lines lines alone do not sonnets make,
though modern poets might claim it were so.
English and Italians both clamor, “Fake,
and we have enough at hazard to know
the difference between blank verse and rhyme,
between effective meter and flat talk.
Sonnets are sculptures of sound over time,
and at your post-Modernist lie we balk!”
I side with ancestors who learned the rules,
and taught their thoughts to conform with canon.
Frost’s roads diverged to mortise careless fools;
his “snowy woods” prove a mismatched tenon.
Yet these are tricks a poet shall employ
to wound the hearer — or surprise with joy.

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