Iambic pentameter – a Clarian sonnet

Sam Peralta   gave us a fascinating insight into the poet John Clare, who brought a new  type of sonnet to us – rhyming couplets, no Volta. .  Clare himself wrote mainly on nature and  I couldn’t think of a theme until I read some of the contributions at http://dversepoets.com/2012/05/03/formforall-clarian-sonnets/  and then I was off

To write a poem only counting syllables
is, to the metre, murder most despicable.

Iambic rhythm has a special flow
without it every sonnet lacks the glow

of music to the soul and makes me sigh,
frustrated, gaze in anguish at the sky.

De da, de da, de da, de da, de da
is how you’re meant to write—it’s not so hard.

You’re free to break the rule by just a little
but you forget the rhythm at your peril.

Think Wand’ring lonely as a big white cloud
Go on then, say it, read it out aloud.

Think Curfew tolls the knell of parting day
to send those lumpy rhythms on their way.

About https://vivinfrance.wordpress.com

All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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25 Responses to Iambic pentameter – a Clarian sonnet

  1. Ohh…Viv, you really doi make it seem easy!! I enjoyed this poem – brilliant and helpful!! 🙂


  2. Lydia says:

    Such fun, this. You could present it to a bunch of at-risk youth and convince them that writing sonnets might be a great thing to try. It has that kind of quirky inspiration to it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Clever, clever, clever, clever, clever! And thank u for ur kind comment on my post. Made my day.


  4. Chazinator says:

    Well, that just seemed to easy! Very witty and enjoyable. 🙂


  5. Pseu says:

    I’m viar impressed.


  6. claudia says:

    haha…very cool…made me smiles…the iambic meter is a challenge for sure..love how you make it the topic here…and you did an excellent job with the form..and the meter…smiles


  7. hedgewitch says:

    This one made me smile–I wish I’d read it yesterday for encouragement while I was pulling all my hair out and going deDUM de DUM deDUM like a broken record…I always want it to be tetrameter–every phrase I think of for something like this has FOUR instead of five de dums–you see my issues. 😉 Loved this all the way.


  8. brian miller says:

    very nicely done viv….you did well with the form…not a fan of restrained meters and stresses as i think the words will find one if you let them…


  9. Oh, by the way, I also loved that you asked about ‘pome’ – as I agonized over that part of the work. Have a peek back in my blog, if you haven’t already, for a behind-the-scenes look at why I chose to use that word. 😉


  10. Viv, I’m to the core a lover of sonnets and a lover of the ars poetica, and your work is a perfect match of both – down to the iambic pentameter 🙂

    You’ll notice, as you do your research, though, that John Clare also followed some other self-imposed strictures in his sonnets – in fact, in all his poems. The foremost of which is: he didn’t use punctuation.

    This was central to his way of thinking – some of his publishers and editors, offended, put punctuation into his poems… and he fought back (those were the struggles I alluded to in the article). So, a “pure” Clarian sonnet, if there is such a thing, would be thus: rhymed couplets in an iambic pentameter, preferably on a naturalistic or romantic theme, without any punctuation.

    In the spirit of John Clare’s claim to be the creator of the Shakespearian sonnet (ahem!) a priori, I thought we could relax the rules a bit, especially since Clare himself didn’t write them down – relax the iambic, relax the ‘no punctuation’ – to make it easier for people to join in.

    By the way, I love that you did your research 🙂


    • vivinfrance says:

      Thank you so much, Sam. Punctuation, hmmm. Yes I did notice, he didn’t use any, but as a very old woman, punctuation was so dinned into me as a child that now I don’t even know I’m using it. I punctuate for reading aloud.


  11. Tilly Bud says:

    I don’t believe the form has been invented that can defeat our Viv 🙂


  12. David King says:

    Wonderful, I love the tongue-in-cheek approach.


  13. Rob Kistner says:

    Hi Viv — You know how I dislike traditional “form”, but as a lark, I was just following the prompt, as I understood it, for the “Clarian” Sonnet as found today at dVerse, which did not call for an ‘iambic’ rhythm, nor did the example of the John Clare piece represent a strict iambic pattern, as I interpreted it. I thought I understood this deviation from pure iambic to be one of the differentiations in the Clarian Sonnet, though perhaps I was wrong? To quote the particular dVerse post: “…a different structure from the more usual Shakespearian or Petrarchan forms. This type of sonnet has come to be known as a Clarian sonnet, and is composed of seven sequentially rhymed couplets – aa bb cc dd ee ff gg – in pentameter, or ten syllables per line…” Oh well… 🙂


    • vivinfrance says:

      Rob, Mea Culpa. I’ve replied by email.


      • vivinfrance says:

        In case you didn’t get the email, here’s the gist of what I said:
        Oops, Rob. Sorry to have offended you. It was the prompt “in pentameter, or ten syllables per line” which was wrong – I researched John Clare quite a bit after reading it, and he really did write in proper iambic pentameter, with the occasional (permitted) anapest thrown in to keep the flow. My subsequent sonnet reflects the angst which this morning’s reading aroused!


  14. Excellent Viv. I’ll have to get my thinking cap on to do this too 🙂


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