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Tinker

Cornish Sonnet

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Tinker

Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
The Sonnet
Sonnet Comparison Chart
English Verse

The Cornish Sonnet is said by an internet source to be influenced by Arab traders to the Cornish coast . This verse form appears to be a merging of Arabic meter and the sonnet. Exactly when and how this came about I have yet to pin down. Early Cornish verse is fragmented and stingy at best. The earliest literature in the Cornish language were fragments of religious plays. The language became all but extinct by the 18th century but what was preserved demonstrates some verse in octaves using 7 syllable loose trochaic lines and alternating rhyme. Unlike verse from other Celtic origins, deliberate use of alliteration or other devices of "harmony of sound" are not present. This sonnet form doesn't fit with these early findings so I can only assume that it arrived on the scene much later than originally presumed.

The elements of the Cornish Sonnet are:

  1. lyrical meditation.
  2. a quatorzain, 2 sestets made up of linked enclosed tercets, followed by a refrain which is the repeat of the first line of each sestet.
  3. metered at the discretion of the poet, lines should be similar length.
  4. rhymed Abacbc Dedfef AD The first line of each sestet are repeated in refrain in the last couplet.
  5. variable. The sonnet can be written with an alternate rhyme scheme abacbC dedfeF CF In this scenario the last line of each sestet is repeated in refrain in the last couplet.

    The Cornish Sonnet: Memorial Day by Rex Allen Brewer

    Wounded warriors left with half a face,
    they don’t often grace your cereal box.
    In fear, their hearts cower in a foul place,
    they don’t see themselves in the looking glass.
    The reaper’s laughter haunts both hound and fox.
    Is he still human? Will they let him pass?

    My God, the burning flesh, I know the dead.
    John Wayne never told me that war would reek,
    that dreams of rotting flesh would stalk my bed.
    The sounds of war are loud and out of tune.
    In the silence at night the dead still speak.
    Saddle up, morning comes and much too soon.

    Wounded warriors left with half a face…
    My God, the burning flesh, I know the dead.

About the same time the Arabs were supposedly influencing Cornish poetry, John Donne was writing an 18 line form we call the Heroic Sonnet


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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