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January 2009

We have already tried here on Poets Online the very complex poetic form of the paradelle. Kim Addonizio tried her hand at the form in a poem called "Ever After"(in the anthology, The Paradelle). In Addonizio2's fourth book of poems, What Is This Thing Called Love, she published another paradelle.

She also has a poem titled "Sonnenizio on a Line From Drayton" that plays its own paradelle-like game. The sonnenizio is her invented form.

Here is her "history" for the form.

The sonnenizio was originated in Florence in the thirteenth century by Vanni Fucci as an irreverent form whose subject was usually the impossibility of everlasting love. Dante retaliated by putting Fucci into the seventh chasm of the Inferno as a thief. Originally composed in hendecasyllabics, the sonnenizio gradually moved away from metrical constraints and began to tackle a wider variety of subject matter. The sonnenizio is 14 lines long. It opens with a line from someone else’s sonnet, repeats a word from that line in each succeeding line of the poem, and closes with a rhymed couplet. Kim started with the first line from Michael Drayton's sonnet Idea LXI from his sonnet series. She repeats the word “part” from the first line of Drayton’s sonnet throughout her own poem. She takes things a bit deeper by also connecting with the speaker in the Drayton poem.

Drayton begins like this:

Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part,
Nay I have done, you get no more of me;
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free;

She doesn't use any sonnet rhyming pattern, though other sonnenzios online do have rhyme. Some use a 14 line single stanza, some 8 & 6, or 4, 4, 4, and 2.

Your sonnenizio prompt is to start by taking a line from someone else’s sonnet and use it as your first line. You then repeat a word from that borrowed line in each of your succeeding 13 lines of the poem. You finish off your sonnet ala Addonizio with a rhymed couplet. We asked poets to identify the original source of their opening line.

Of course, poets being what they are, we expect variations on these rules.

There's much more about this prompt, sonnenizios, sonnets and paradelles - plus poetry news and conversations amongst poets at the Poets Online Blog.

Based on line 12 of Ada Cambridge's "Desire"

O mate and friend, elusive in the throng,
You radiate so intimate a call,
My lonely primate yearnings, helpless, fall
In sensual checkmate to your mating song.
You'll be my first mate first of all
(Although I've mated elsewhere, I confess --
So I'm a skilful playmate, yes?)
Now mate your lips with mine -- a dazzling ball
Will burst between our heats and consummate
In creamy flame as we amalgamate;
Embrace my fire and let's approximate
The blazing torch of my penultimate.
Come, soulmate, stroke and steal control --
Legitimate my heart, my flesh, my whole.

Richard Lubbock

sonnenizio on a line from Millay’s “Bluebeard”

This door you might not open, and you did;
as if to slip the mask from a stranger’s face, open
it to scrutiny of blandly open daylight. Your own
face you keep in shadow. I’ve seen openings
in a courtyard open only to the sky, kept half-
secret by wrought-iron gates that open to nothing
but questions. For openers, a forbidden room,
the key that opens it left lying in plain view.

And still the question remains open-ended;
an open letter addressed to no one in particular.
Open it, and try to parse the meaning. Is it
written in an open hand, generous as sunlight?
Open-hearted as the smile behind the mask
that never answers, no matter how you ask.

Taylor Graham

on a first line by John Donne

What if this present were the world's last night?
It's not a question that any of us want to dwell
on, but if the voice of God rang out to tell
us to prepare, what would you try to put right
about yourself in those last hours of blessed light
and those terrifying final ones of ultimate night?
If you were already on the path to nothingness or hell,
or had gained entrance to paradise, the death knell
would not mean much, and you really could, despite
the screams of those outside voicing last-minute idolatry,
prepare a fabulous last meal, and then take a mistress
or wife for one last earthly joyride. Some liquor or drug
might let you fall asleep in the last minutes of this world.
I know that a poetry writing prompt that was assigned
online would not be the first or last thing on my mind.

Ken Ronkowitz


who were so dark of heart they might not speak
or speak darkly having lost heart
might come to love, feeling in the darkness, then speak,
heart in mouth lest accused of darkening doorways
take heart at a smile and dark eyes
at a heartfelt offer of shelter from darkness
until the heart of the matter finds a safe dark dwelling 
here at the heart of darkness
and when you place your own dark hand upon my heart
and feel your own beating darkly, speak
of phoenixes rising from dark ashes
speak of hearts and sparks that darkly blaze
a path through darkness into flight
binding our dark hearts together in delight.

Iris Lavell

A sonnenizio on Amy Lowell's "Mirage"

How is it that, being gone, you fill my days,
with tender doubts and misconceptions?
You are an illusion that I continually see,
as real as those passing before me,
now, sitting on this shore and writing,
watching water babies in the sunlight.

You, who never came into air from night,
are with me always, close as you were
for a brief time. I speak to you more
than I speak to God, or perhaps, I speak
to God through you. Once, I thought
our souls had merged, a blend of beings,
but now I feel that two was the intent,
and one is always, the other never, content.

Lianna Wright