A Valentine Sonnet in Progress

A couple of weeks ago, I offered a free, personalized Valentine’s Day sonnet for the first person who could “pique my interest.” My Georgian buddy John Cochrane responded with this intriguing premise:

Valentine’s Day poem from man to wife. At the stage of life when bodily frailities really start setting their teeth in, kids are pulling away, individuating, will be out of the house sooner now rather than later. Both parents’ circle of old friends dispersing in a widening gyre, no new friends being made to take those relationship slots. Money manageable but always tight. Still very much in love with each other, but a dwindling number of life’s major moments to look forward to. Hope this snags somewhere, even if only on your pants cuffs like a stickleburr.

And here’s a first plan of attack—what my day job calls the “prewriting” phase of the project—based on that description:

  1. I’m thinking there are three basic ideas in John’s description, perfect for an English (aka “Shakespearean”) sonnet:
    • Stanza 1: Loss of our youth
    • Stanza 2: Loss of our children
    • Stanza 3: Loss of our friends
    • Couplet: A response to all that loss.
  2. To my mind, the ideas better progress in this order:
    • Stanza 1: Loss of our children
    • Stanza 2: Loss of our friends
    • Stanza 3: Loss of our youth
    • Couplet: A response to all that loss.
  3. And to tie everything together, I plan to open each section with repetition:
    • Stanza 1: “They’re leaving us…” [children]
    • Stanza 2: “They’re leaving us…” [friends]
    • Stanza 3: “They’re leaving us…” [beauty, strength, hair, youth]
    • Couplet: “Leaving us…” [a surprise turn]

I do have an idea for that surprise turn: a couplet is supposed to respond to the problem or question set in the quatrains, and this is a Valentine’s Day poem, after all. But I’ll keep it secret for now, until I post the actual draft in a day or two. At the moment, however, I’ve a lot of rhyming and “rhythming” to do!

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