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The Poetry Place

Oxford 7 - Sonnet Complete

Sunday, 16 May 2010 16:57:11

Sunday, 16 May 2010 16:57:11
Some probs with the site meant the blog has been delayed. Apologies for those of you hanging on my every word.

The sonnet finished in the meantime and this is the (for the moment) final version.  I decided on leaflike for the vaulting - because it is, and 'restrained' in line 8 because they are - both by their frames and their position. I think the change to line 10 is the only other alteration.

The steps which lead you to and from the quad,

Beneath quaint leaflike vaulting, Hogwarts style,

Will be the ones which greater feet have trod

While on their ponderous way through sceptred aisles

Where portraits of the great, time servers, plodders,

Men with many starts in life, old land, old names,

Men of learning, men of breeding, men of God

Hang in dark double rows, restrained, gilt-framed.

Great in their time, all male, all white, all dead,

Gaze down, look serious and often frown

(Dark coated, sashed and academic gowned)

Upon we lesser fry just out of bed.

We let their oily portraits on the hallowed walls

Grace our bacon eggs and mushrooms in the Hall.




Oxford 6

Friday, 7 May 2010 08:02:03

Friday, 7 May 2010 08:02:03

Great men in their time, all male, all dead,

Look down, look serious and often frown

(Dark coated, sashed and academic gowned)

Upon we lesser fry just out of bed.

We let their oily portraits on the hallowed walls

grace our bacon eggs and mushrooms in the Hall. 


Walls and Hall make a rather clunking end but they do rhyme and they fit what I want to say, so I won't try to find something more sophisticated. Oily portraits?  Is that fair?   I've thought through a number of other adjectives but none appeal quite as much.



Oxford 5

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 10:18:40

Tuesday, 4 May 2010 10:18:40

It was breakfast time, so ‘just out of bed’ makes a satisfactory fourth line here.

 

Great men in their time, all male, all dead,

Look down, look serious and often frown

(Dark coated, sashed and academic gowned)

Upon we lesser fry just out of bed.

 

Not completely happy with ‘often frown’ but –once again – like the little pun of lesser fry which leads on to bacon eggs and mushrooms in the Hall


Oxford 4

Friday, 30 April 2010 10:25:24

Friday, 30 April 2010 10:25:24

The steps which lead you to and from the quad,

Beneath quaint -- --  vaulting, Hogwarts style,

Will be the ones which greater feet have trod

While on their ponderous way through sceptred aisles

Where portraits of the great, time servers, plodders,

Men with many starts in life, old land, old names,

Men of learning, men of breeding, men of God

Hang in dark double rows, -- -- , gilt-framed


Quite pleased with men of God as my fourth 'od' rhyme because of course most of the teachers (or whatever their proper name is -dons?) were clergy until relatively recently.  And gilt-framed might suggest guilt to some readers - for being so privileged perhaps?  Just a tangential thought. Now I feel the final six lines are within my grasp!





Oxford 4

Friday, 30 April 2010 10:25:24

Friday, 30 April 2010 10:25:24

The steps which lead you to and from the quad,

Beneath quaint -- --  vaulting, Hogwarts style,

Will be the ones which greater feet have trod

While on their ponderous way through sceptred aisles

Where portraits of the great, time servers, plodders,

Men with many starts in life, old land, old names,

Men of learning, men of breeding, men of God

Hang in dark double rows, -- -- , gilt-framed


Quite pleased with men of God as my fourth 'od' rhyme because of course most of the teachers (or whatever their proper name is -dons?) were clergy until relatively recently.  And gilt-framed might suggest guilt to some readers - for being so privileged perhaps?  Just a tangential thought. Now I feel the final six lines are within my grasp!





Oxford 3

Thursday, 29 April 2010 17:26:03

Thursday, 29 April 2010 17:26:03

Quad, and trod need to be separated. Plodders offers the tempatation to continue the rhyme.


The steps which lead you to and from the quad,

Beneath quaint -- --  vaulting, Hogwarts style,

Will be the ones which greater feet have trod

While on their --- --- way through sceptred aisles

Where portraits of the great, time servers, plodders,

Men with many starts in life...


I later discovered that the passageway which seemed vaguley familiar had indeed been used in the filming of Harry Potter.


And couldn't resist 'sceptred aisles'.





Oxford 2

Monday, 26 April 2010 16:49:27

Monday, 26 April 2010 16:49:27

Hall and wall are easy rhymes and some of the link between them comes to mind:


Dark coats ...................... academic gown

Great men in their time, all male all vanished

Leaving these oil imprints on the wall

To grace and entertain our bacon eggs and mushrooms


What after great coats?  Medals?  What are those things over their shoulders?  Sashes.   Oil imprints?  What about oily imprints?  Makes it sound slightly dirty as if leaving a muddy footprint.  I quite like that idea.



Oxford

Friday, 23 April 2010 07:02:53

Friday, 23 April 2010 07:02:53

I was recently invited to give a talk at a festival in Oxford and the organisers put me up in Christ Church College, which was an experience in itself. It was breakfast in the Great Hall which made the greatest impression.   This blog is a bit different in that I've already written the completed poem but I did keep a record of how it came together so I think it may be of interest to some of you.


On this occasion, several rhymes came to me one after the other and fitted so aptly that I thought of a sonnet, as the form.  Not an unuusal thought in my case.


The steps which lead you to the quad

May be the ones which greater feet have trod

Portraits of the great, time servers, plodders

Men with starts in life


The latter part was prompted by the great portraits which hang in the Hall, overlooking the breafasting hordes.


'Frown' and 'gown' appeared in my mind and then I was hooked...


Look down, look serious .....    frown

Dark coats ........................ academic gown





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