a sonnet, more or less, for the mediocre

We’d dallied with bright shining dreams, of course;
Gatsby-esque timetables and solemn pacts
Made with ourselves, come undone with brute force.
A bitter brew to quaff, but facts are facts;
We’re those workaday cogs we once foreswore
(Of no note at all save in mothers’ hearts)
Doomed to lurch forward while being no more
Than the shabby sum of commonplace parts.

Let us shelve tattered remnants of our ghosts,
And deign not to dwell on what could have been,
At last shaken free of our fathers’ boasts
(Praise God, no longer promising young men.)
Unshackled from that, then we can begin
To embrace the joy of just sleeping in.


8 thoughts on “a sonnet, more or less, for the mediocre

  1. Not only is this sonnet technically the work of considerable talent, it also captures the realistion that the excessive ambitions of early youth are, for most of us, unnattainable. This comes about either by some trauma, as you depict, or by a slow process.

    Either way, at a crucial time, we acquire the wisdom to know our destiny lies elsewhere yet is of no less fulfilment and service. We find ourselves and cease to be another’s image. You choose just the right place in the poem to say this. Sonnets are traditionally love poems and you cleverly use the medium to demonstrate that love of self is important but when we grow up we find that it is love of our neighbours as ourselves that counts.

    There are those whose destiny follows exactly the course they plan. No doubt they come to the reckoning in other ways.

    My analysis lacks all the vividness, personal confession and effect of your sonnet. How difficult was it to write? Did you have to write and rewrite it until it finally arrived in the form you sought? Did the fullness of what you needed to say emerge as you worked, or did it all happen in a stroke of sweeping inspiration?

    1. I would love to say it came to me in a thunderbolt, but this has been several months in the making, as I tend to move lugubriously (the side affect of of not being a Type A personality.) As always, your patronage does me honor.

  2. Well, that clever Richard beat me to the punch. This sonnet is one of your best works (to date).

    As is customary when I read your poetry, I must read and reread, afraid that I might miss the subtle meaning. This one is clear: our expectations are rarely met but often lamented. Thus, we scratch around in the dirt, trying to make meaning out of our lives and the lives of others (who, by the way, haven’t met our expectations).

    Thus, the need to sleep in or take a nap without judgement from thyself or others.


    1. I was conversing with another author in another venue, and I noted something very much kin to what you’ve said here–every generation is steadfast in its belief in its own unique worthiness, and every generation finds itself a bit bumfuzzled when it finds out how wrong it is. How wonderful to come to the realization that we make our own meaning independent of the judgement of others and the grandiloquent expectations of our youthful folly.

      I find the need to write something formal once in a while, just to reassure myself that I can do at least a C+ job with technique. Free verse is fine, but it always feels like cheating.

  3. maybe i’m taking this too simply, but it rings of years thinking life is easy or it could be easy, should be blah blah and than reality arrives one day and work sucks….even a magician has to work hard though i once was forced to hear Jacques Doucet say that his wife had a real job (at a hospital) where he on the other hand never worked a day in his life because he was doing what he loved……God, I hate it when people say that. It just seems so untrue.

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