Category Archives: Sonnet Duel

Victory (or … tie?)

Since having a second was not determined before the duel started, I believe outside interference is unjustified and I claim victory. However, due to the subtle depth and  brilliance of Thalia’s ‘In Memoriam’ and ‘Spendthrift’ which verses are like finely sharpened swords and make my clumsy verses seem like blows from a battle-hammer, and also due to the indisputable fact that victory was only mine because severe jet-lag isn’t as bad as the kind of stress and busyness Thalia has been through, I am happy to retract my last sonnet and call it a tie, to be broken later, after Thalia has overcome the momentous summer work she has to do, and feels capable of poetical battle once again. Meantime, do go back and read the sonnets, and any opinions on who the victor in terms of overall poetic quality should be are very welcome on this or any previous post.

Round 1:
Dusty Thane: The Death’s Head
Thalia In Memoriam

Round 2:
Dusty Thane: The Sparrow
Thalia:La Chasse

Round 3:
Dusty Thane: Calm
Thalia: Lost

Round 4:
Dusty Thane: Disappointed Alchemist
Thalia: Porcine Transgression

Round 5:
Dusty Thane: The Mountain
Thalia: Evil Spirits

Round 6:
Dusty Thane: Vacation Sonnet
Thalia: Spendthrift

Round 7:
Dusty Thane: The Edge


The Edge: Sonnet Duel

Well, I am sorry to say that this is not a terribly good poem, but I claim jet-lag as an excuse. However the event that I describe was quite striking. As my plane took off out of Chicago, we went right up over the lake. On this particular day, at that particular time, the foggy day and the grey lake were the exact same color, and there was no visible line between them. So as we went rushing toward the shore of the lake, one thought involuntarily ran through my head: ‘So, this is the edge of the world.’

The Edge:

Firmly ensconced in the airplanes belly,
Of modern man’s invention a marvel,
A creature of steel serving our whimsy,
Laughing at distances that made kings tremble.
The airplane is humble, despite its power
And with little regard for weather or rain
The machine flies above every tower
Far into the sky it extends man’s reign.
Though awe inspired at flight’s beginning
While the foggy heavens us received
Out of the window my eyes were peering
And an ancient mystery perceived.
The edge of the world rushed up to greet us
And briefly within me, Wonder arose.

Vacation Sonnet

Well, this is a first. Two posts on one day… But since I am leaving tomorrow for vacation in Greece I have obtained permission from Thalia to post my sonnet for this Sunday two days early.  I had been working on a serious sonnet, but since my mind left for vacation a day or two ago, I wrote a different sonnet. Here it is after the picture:


Against vicious ideas I fain would write
And caution and warn against pretention,
And giving nihilists much attention;
And thinking myself Tiresias, indict
Every diseased idea that thinks it’s right.
Instructing to increase all retention
Of wholesome ideas full of redemption,
And arming my reader, send them to fight.
Alas, my thoughts are greatly distracted
Coming vacation makes thinking protracted
And rhyming words like insignificant
Appears to require a mendicant.
So, since sentience has fled for a season
On a beach I’ll relax beyond reason!

I will be gone for about two weeks, but I should make it back before the next round of the sonnet duel. Maybe I will post from Greece, we’ll see.

The Mountain

So, my competitor Thalia and I gave ourselves a one day extension, since she was visiting me all weekend. However, since I am done, here is my sonnet. Hers should be up by tomorrow sometime, and I will link to it when it arrives. Here it is: Evil Spirits.

A brief introduction here with a picture of the Collegiate Peaks in Colorado. I worked for a while on a dude ranch in CO, and I was a van driver, and one day a week I got to drive people down to this area for white water rafting. But that’s the end of the correlation between the mountains in this picture and the Mountain in the poem.

And now the poem.

The Mountain:

The mountain stretches its neck to the sky
Colossal and proud without pretention,
Pyramids stand in low imitation
Of its grandeur and might raised up on high,
Higher than even the eagles can fly.
Standing apart it calls my attention,
Singing the song of my heart’s affection,
Calling my spirit. And yet I do cry.
Not yet, not yet, from this world may I turn.
Rebellion and sorrows are piled ‘round
Of billions of people like tinder found,
Who, lacking water, are destined to burn.
My gaze I avert from the mountain’s height,
And, bringing Water, return to the fight.

Sonnet Duel: Disappointed Alchemist

So, with great sadness, I am using my back-up sonnet in the sonnet duel. Being sick for some time left me no time to write sonnets (or do much more than sleep). So here is a sonnet I wrote for the Thompson family annual Chesterton poetry party. The background is that everything I make and use in my research is white…. while everyone else in Inorganic Chemistry is doing stuff with green, red and many colored compounds… Recently though this has changed, and I have started working with a molybdenum and vanadium based catalyst which is orange, and changes to red-brown and then to green upon adding the reaction is catalyzes…. So somewhat sated in my desire for pretty colors at work, I nevertheless post here ‘The Disappointed Alchemist’. I hope you enjoy it. I will link to my competition when it appears. Porcine Transgression

I becams’t an inorganic chemist
Haphazardly, by promises seduc’d
(Spoken softly, by Sybil who liest)
Of brilliant colours to essence reduc’d.
I had thought to create sanguine, azure
Sable, verdant compounds, myster’ous, whole,
As hoary Alchemist of old, hunch’d o’er
Sought full transmutation of leaden soul,
I had thought to find mystery and subtlety.
Recalcitrance, instead, and thoughtless perfidy
In great supply I find. Now, my soul sees.
Lo! Mankind hath lost all but rational
Deceit, which, as Circe kept Ulysses
Does captivate and mesmerize the soul.


By motionless stagnant air surrounded
For even to breathe the Winds dare not.
Insects and birds are likewise confounded
The air is too thick, and fly they cannot.
Petrified, drowned, by the dead hour
Which enslaves the mind, the body crushing
I gasp, gulp, wheeze; and breathe ever slower
The blanket of air, with water soaking.
Nature herself is cruelly imprisoned
Locked up and unable even to sigh.
Everything is poisoned, stifled, smothered,
And all life is drugged, perhaps to die.
Together the thunder, the gale and rain
Crashing, bring breath; and life begins again.

I will link to my competition when it arrives: Lost

The Sparrow

On Lotharingian soil I rooted stand.
As wind whips peaks, white, on the azure sea
Strange stones in bright green field encircle me.
The answer occurs to mind: hallow’d land.
My spirit stricken; a bugle sounding
Music, sweet balm of the soul, doth betray
For rank upon rank, brave chivalry lay
Hidden and silent, below me sleeping.
In retribution for cowardly hate
Does courageous blood a vengeful God sate?
The music fades again, a sign given,
A hopping rebuke, cheerful and feathered
Half-penny value to careless human.
Are not His children greatly more treasured?

(My competition: La Chasse)

The Death’s Head (or: Orual’s Song)

Faceless am I by natural effect
Groping through life, though merely mobile death.
My birthright, damnation, total defect
So potent, I live without slightest breath.
Can driest of bones quench perdition’s fire
To wat`ry redemption themselves dragging?
Escape ravaging flames hot and dire
While ligaments, flesh, and breath all lacking?
Cursed skull! Thou cannot hear the Word from the Tree
And with fright’ning, dark, forlorn, pits thou cannot see!
Yet a mighty, turbulent, crashing flood
With power crimson every bone laving
Skulls into faces, Omnipotent Blood.
Ears hear! Eyes see! Now a face, believing.

(See thali3’s First Sonnet here)

Consider the Gauntlet Picked Up!!!!!

The Start of the Sonnet Duel!

In response to thalia3’s most recent post (as well as my recent completion of a poem of the same form) I hereby challenge thalia3 to a contest most severe. This is a break with the past for this blog, as I will now be occasionally posting sonnets I have written, as this is a sonnet duel.

The rules agreed upon are as follows:

1. Both myself and thalia3 must post one sonnet on our respective blogs once every two weeks by midnight Sunday. (my first entry, tonight’s is the exception) This means that the next round is due the 1st of April (and this is no joke)

2. The poem MUST be a sonnet, although not necessarily specifically a Shakespearean one or whatever.  14 lines, Iambic pentameter in the majority, coherent rhyme scheme… etc.

3. Whoever does not post a Sonnet in time loses… the other wins 🙂 (duh)

4. We do encourage readers to comment either here or there which they consider better. It will be a back-up judging method.

5. In cases of doubt, our referee will be Melpomene if the Lady Tragedy is agreeable.

That’s about it, my reply to thalia3 is to follow.