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One of the Most Characteristic Shapes
Human Thought Can Take



... So by these various roads we have arrived at a miraculous little form in which our human need for unity and discontinuity, repetition and variation, tension and resolution, symmetry and asymmetry, lyric inspiration and argumentative rigour, are all held in near-perfect oppositional balance. The sonnet might be one of the great achievements of human ingenuity; I hope it’s clear by now that it isn’t an arbitrary construct that poets pit themselves against out of a perverse sense of craftsmanlike duty – it’s a box for their dreams, and represents one of the most characteristic shapes human thought can take. Poets write sonnets because it makes poems easier to write. Readers read them because it makes their lives easier to bear.

from 101 Sonnets (Faber, 1999)



 

Comments

Jack Vawdrey said…
Absolutely true. I believe that the most fulfilling existence comes when we can find the perfect balance between the objective and the subjective. If someone can care enough about an idea or person to be sincere, but not care too much that he or she ends up exercising excessive control, then he or she has found the happy medium where life has form and definition but also freedom and nuance.
Mark Granier said…
Have often quoted from Paterson's excellent book, especially when doing the sonnet with creative writing students.

Incidentally, The Reverse is also true: http://markgranier.blogspot.ie/2014/09/the-reverse.html

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