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Archive for May, 2008

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
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So far, we have looked at examples of the Italian sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and a sonnet variation by Berryman. Here’s an example of an English sonnet by Shakespeare with an a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g pattern. The turn happens in the final two lines.

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You will only expect a few words, what will those be?

When the heart is full it may run over, but the real fullness stays within.

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Beloved, my Beloved, when I think
That thou wast in the world a year ago,
What time I sate alone here in the snow
And saw no footprint, heard the silence sink
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The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul
Move still, oh, still, beside me, as they stole
Betwixt me and the dreadful outer brink
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My letters! all dead paper, … mute and white ! —
And yet they seem alive and quivering
Against my tremulous hands which loose the string
And let them drop down on my knee to-night.
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When our two souls stand up erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curvéd point, — what bitter wrong
Can the earth do to us, that we should not long
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