POEMS!

This page lists the various poems written on this blog.


Dominica in Palmis MMXVII
A tribute to the Coptic martyrs of 9 April 2017

The Dilemma
A commentary on the 2016 US Presidential election

Hell Hath No Fury
A crown of sonnets dedicated to a friend.

To an interlocutor
(Or, Apologia pro theologia). A crown of sonnets.

The Psalm of St. Valentine
A speculative reflection on St. Valentine’s final hours before his martyrdom. A crown of sonnets.

Via Crucis (or, “Requiem for the Christ”)
The Stations of the Cross in rhyme and meter. A crown of sonnets.

Apologia pro fide mea
My response to Elizabeth Scalia’s #WhyRemainCatholic

Non Loquendo
A response to the Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of baby parts. A crown of sonnets.

A Memorial Day reflection
At the end of this long reflection is a sonnet in memory of a fallen friend.

If the Bard wrote the Gospel
The Our Father as a sonnet.

A sonnet for the Feast of Corpus Christi
Self-explanatory.

A quick apologia pro poemate meo: if the kind reader should explore, he/she will find my predisposition for English sonnets (and thus for iambic pentameter); I favor this format precisely because I consider it far more challenging than free verse. Writing with such strict constraints while attempting to express the breadth of one’s ideas seems to me an excellent analogy for the true understanding of human freedom. As free verse breaks from the constraints of rhyme and meter, the lines between prose and poetry are blurred– this is not necessarily a bad thing, for poetic prose is a magnificent thing when solemnly delivered, like the Exsultet chanted in all its melismatic latinitas in the candle-lit vastness of night. But as the density of meaning is diffused through lines both short and long, with no rhyme to bind them, the impact of free verse to me is far less immediate and compelling.

Human freedom exists within the created order; that is, the divine law and natural law are binding on the ontology of freedom. Law, at its very core, exists to serve the common good and to protect shared freedoms, in order that human existence may flourish. The best and most profound expressions of freedom are not those that contravene those laws, but those that find harmony with the laws. This tension between law and freedom is at the same time a balance between authoritarianism and anarchy– somewhere between the extremes is an expression, a phrase, an action, that is both commensurate with the author’s intention and with the order of his world. That is a true expression of freedom.

When writing a sonnet, one is bound strictly by rhyme and meter. Once the first line is written, the amount of possible words one can use is greatly diminished. The author must construct lines and phrases that make sense while maintaining the flow of iambic rhythm; at the same time, he must construct them in such a way that, twenty syllables later (not an insignificant length!), another sensible rhyme must appear. Even more difficult is the construction of entire sentences which run for multiple lines– and if the coherent sentence must stop in the middle of a line, the next sentence is ipso facto compelled to resolve this verbal pause within the sonnet’s meter and rhyming structure.

I enjoy the challenge of putting my ideas to paper (or rather, to bytes) within the limits of a sonnet. It forces an author to push the limits of his expressive powers. As one will see, I also like to use acrostic sonnets– another layer of complexity. If the author’s original word choice, no matter how proximate and appropriate to his intention, fails to fit the structure, he must find an alternate means of expression, and in this search– should he succeed– he expands his linguistic mastery and perhaps even finds hitherto unknown yet better ways to articulate himself. In the struggle to find rhymes and synonyms, he may encounter new words that evoke new motifs, images, and literary references that connect to his central theme. In some cases, it leads to the development of unique motifs that bolster the poem’s originality. Such discoveries for me constitute the thrill of poetic endeavors. In my freedom, I navigate through the nuances of language and tackle the obstacles of rhyme and meter until those obstacles become tools which underscore my central theme.

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