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Tinker

Stretched Sonnet

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Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
The Sonnet
Sonnet Comparison Chart

A Stretched Sonnet is any poem that has the sound and feel of a sonnet but stretches the boundaries of frame and meter. With this definition, you might say all sonnet variations created after the Sicilian Sonnet might loosely be called Stretched Sonnets, but commonly the term Stretched Sonnet refers to poems that are slightly out of sync with the formal guidelines of the sonnet's 14 lines and iambic pentameter yet still have the sound of a lyrical meditation.

In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz   by William Butler Yeats has been referred to as a Stretched Sonnet. Note the iambic tetrameter and the 20 line strophe followed by a 12 line strophe certainly stretch the boundaries of a traditional sonnet. But the shape of a longer strophe followed by a shorter strophe with a turn or pivot occurring from one to the other and the lyrical, meditative nature of the piece give the poem the feel of a traditional sonnet.

The light of evening, Lissadell,
Great windows open to the south,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
But a raving autumn shears
Blossom from the summer's wreath;
The older is condemned to death,
Pardoned, drags out lonely years
Conspiring among the ignorant.
I know not what the younger dreams -
Some vague Utopia- and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.

Dear shadows, now you know it all,
All the folly of a fight
With a common wrong or right.
The innocent and the beautiful
Have no enemy but time;
Arise and bid me strike a match
And strike another till time catch;
Should the conflagration climb,
Run till all the sages know.
We the great gazebo built,
They convicted us of guilt;
Bid me strike a match and blow.

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