Should I write a fourth ‘book’ of The English Strain project? (I hear some groans!)
A phantom fourth book suggests itself (though it might morph into something altogether else). And Victorian sonnets (though why just sonnets? Patricia asks me; I have resolved not to write even a 14 line poem again!) suggest themselves as vehicles. There’s an unthinkably expensive 5 volume anthology containing 2000 such beasts (here: https://anthempress.com/anthem-nineteenth-century-series/the-anthem-anthology-of-victorian-sonnets-pdf ). There are famous sequences (I’ve covered EBB in book one), such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s rather abstract ‘The House of Life’ (see http://www.sonnets.org/house.htm) or sister Christina’s ‘Monna Innominata’ (see https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/monna-innominata-a-sonnet-of-sonnets/
) which fits structurally, but doesn’t inspire. Then I thought about Meredith’s Modern Love, but that’s too narrative – though obviously all these attributes can be subverted to subvert my subject matter, or poetic focus, as I prefer. Then I wondered about Decadent Sonnets (that’s a possible title!) and I spent some time looking at them, from Scouser Richard le Gallienne’s (who went to school round the corner and published his first book in Liverpool!) and Arthur Symons, his ‘Nerves’, for example, but as yet have resolved nothing! Here is Symons, to give the sickly flavour of that yellow decade and its decadence:
The modern malady of love is nerves.
Love, once a simple madness, now observes
The stages of his passionate disease,
And is twice sorrowful because he sees,
Inch by inch entering, the fatal knife.
O health of simple minds, give me your life,
And let me, for one midnight, cease to hear
The clock for ever ticking in my ear,
The clock that tells the minutes in my brain.
It is not love, nor love's despair, this pain
That shoots a witless, keener pang across
The simple agony of love and loss.
Nerves, nerves! O folly of a child who dreams
Of heaven, and, waking in the darkness, screams.
Not great, but the enervation is attractive.
Update July 2022: BUT NOW a last poem has been published in International Times, an appropriate venue for a finale of these political poems: ‘The final poem of British Standards, the third and final book of the ‘English Strain’ Project’ I announce before its subtitle: ‘Monitoring Adam Mickiewicz’ first Crimean Sonnet: The Ackerman Steppe’. Its actual title is ‘After-Shock’, the last of four ‘After’ poems at the end of the book.
Read it here: https://internationaltimes.it/aftershock/
Read about the first two books (now both available); The English Strain here, which features sonnets from Petrarch to EBB: http://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2018/04/robert-sheppard-petrarch-sonnet-project.html
and Bad Idea which features ONLY the sonnets of Michael Drayton, here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2019/09/on-bad-idea-and-reference-to-earlier.html
and about the third book, British Standards, which features Romantic Era sonnets only: here: https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2021/04/transpositions-of-hartley-coleridge-end.html
NB The answer to the question of my title was YES. (Wrote one poem.) Then NO. See here: