Letters From Crete (iv) : FRAMING THE SONNEVERSE

 IV

Framing the Sonneverse

 

I am writing this overlooking the Libyan Sea, from the moputain village of Agios Ioanis. We reached her three days ago, calling in at Gortys – the ancient capital of Crete – in 39 degree heat, & too hot to explore much. I did pick up a copy of the oldest Law Code in Europe however, & have a mind to mixing it in with some classical poetry Emily gifted me as translated by Robin Skelton. From Gortys we took a wrong turn & ended up back at busy Heraklion, which was perhaps serendipitous as it allowed the girls to have another blast at Star Beach.

 

 

At 5 in the evening we set off for our next residence, crossing the island again form sea-to-sea as far as Ireapetra. On the way I was delighted to see the stone boat sunk by Poseidon near Psirea, the island which I presumed to be that of the Phaecaens of the Odyssey. I’d searched for it in vain on Google Earth, thinking it would be hard at the island’s Minoan twin harbours – but instead it is closer to the mainland & the Minoan city of Gournia, which may be of some significance. I shall be returning to the area tomorrow, & shall be studying the matter further then.

 

Agios Ioannis is a 9k drive at the head of a wonderful olive u-shaped mountain recess. Stacked white against the mountains, it is half dilapidated & half regenerated in the Calcata fashion. Once abustling town, in the 70s & 80s its inhabitants drifted to easier lives in the city & by the coast, leaving an insanely beautiful ghost-town. Even today, in the winter there are only 6 fulltime residents. Our house is large – with two wings, an excellent garden tended by the grey-bearded Adonis. Five cats, 3 dogs, & a goat contribute to the safari-like nature of our domicile, along with grievously nasty mosquitos that are ravaging the girls. There are only two places to eat – & no shops – the modernistic, uniquely-detailed Route 55 Café Bar, & Kristina’s tavern, where we can takeaway genuine Greek food to eat at one several places in our garden.

 

I have been chiefly editing the Silver Rose while here, which leads me to the contents of this essay. In one of my Pendragon Lectures, I formulated the theory that all poems stood upon four pillars – Music, Mood, Mould & Measure. Let us now apply this theory to the exploration of the sonnet form, retaining the ‘quatordicci’ element that seems natural in soneteering, ie the prevalent usage of the number 14.

The Mould of every sonnet, then, is bounded by a 14-line restriction. However, a sonnet may be divided into staves, or stanzettas as I like to call them. The Petrachian, for example, contains two stanzettas, of 8 & 6 lines respectively. In the terms of the Sonneverse, let us call to mind the following couplet;

 

Every stanza is a planet

Every sonnet is a star

 

The meaning behind this is simple. A sonnet is powered by the same energy that emanates from a star- a fiery light-giving force that gives life to its system. This energy then brings to life the planets – ie stanzas – & whether the star is powerful or weak depends upon the quality of the sonnet. As I have explored the Sonneverse, I have mapped out a number of typical star systems one expects to find.

 

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X            X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X  X  X

X  X  X  X       X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X       X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X  X       X  X  X  X  X  X  X

X       X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X  X  X

X  X  X  X  X  X  X  X       X

X  X  X

X  X  X

X

 

In the above system charts, 6 would be the Petracrcian (8-6), 10 would be the Shakesperean (4-4-4-2) & 11 would be the sonnet form used by Shelley in his Ode to the West Wind (3-3-3-3-2). Of course there are many other variants; seven couplets, whether separated or in a solid block, irregular sonnets which look & feel like Free Verse, & so on into infinity, one expects.

 The Shakesperean Sonnet

Each x is a syllable with the letters representing the last syllable & its rhyme.

xxxxxxxxxa
xxxxxxxxxb
xxxxxxxxxa
xxxxxxxxxb

xxxxxxxxxc
xxxxxxxxxd
xxxxxxxxxc
xxxxxxxxxd

xxxxxxxxxe
xxxxxxxxxf
xxxxxxxxxe
xxxxxxxxxf

xxxxxxxxxg
xxxxxxxxxg

Each planet of a star-system can be mapped out via its MEASURE – giving further physical variation to a sonnet, including its potential rhyme scheme. Iambic pentameter, the measure of the Welsh Bards, the Alexandrine French – or a mixture of three & many more besides – all can utilized by the sonnet’s creator to craft their starsystem. William Blake understood the notion, when he said that the genius & creative spirit of mankind was poetry, & it is in the sonneverse that we gain our most natural reflection of the Untold Universe at large. Each planet will then have its own atmosphere, or MOOD, while its music is its life, a barren rock of sterile words or one singing with that operatic voices of man, beast, bird & insect, just as is heard – faintly – in the fabulous land of Creta.

 

I shall leave this essay two further expansions of the Sonneverse. In the purest sense of the physics behind sonneteering, whereas 14 sonnets make a traditional sequanza, we shall now call them Sonneclusters, 14 stars all closely linked in time, space & by theme. The gathering of sonneclusters will then create a Galaxy of Sonnets, 196 of them, & of each these galaxies are a part of the Sonneverse, when so many as yet remain undiscovered, that is to say, unwritten.

 

Agios Ioanniss

13th July

 

 

 

 

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