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For Poetry Monday, jumping ahead to a post-Elizabethan sonneteer:


Sonnet VI from Sappho & Phaon, Mary Robinson

Is it to love, to fix the tender gaze,
    To hide the timid blush, and steal away;
    To shun the busy world, and waste the day
In some rude mountain’s solitary maze?
Is it to chant one name in ceaseless lays,
    To hear no words that other tongues can say,
    To watch the pale moon’s melancholy ray,
To chide in fondness, and in folly praise?
    Is it to pour th’ involuntary sigh,
To dream of bliss, and wake new pangs to prove;
    To talk, in fancy, with the speaking eye,
Then start with jealousy, and wildly rove;
    Is it to loath the light, and wish to die?
For these I feel,—and feel that they are love.


Mary Robinson was an English actress, royal mistress (her role as Perdita from A Winter's Tale gave the future George IV his early nickname of Florizel), and (after those two careers washed up) popular early Romantic poet. While there had been a few sonnets written in the decade before this was published, after being totally out of fashion for over a century, her Sappho and Phaon was the first sonnet cycle of the Romantic era, and a significant part of rehabilitating the form. If you like any of Wordsworth's sonnets, thank Robinson. If you like this sonnet, go read the rest: it's good.

---L.

Subject quote from "Who's Next?" Tom Lehrer.

Originally posted at http://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/644210.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.