I am not quite ready to commit yet - give me a day or two - but it looks like Kingdom Arts and Sciences is in my future! This means I need to get something together for the Duke Gyrth Oldcastle Memorial Poetry Smackdown ready post-haste.
A Gyrth-inspired Poem from 1492-1600
Form: Shakespearian Sonnet
What I learned: The volta isn't always the final couplet!
Our loss as deeply felt as yester joys
How can we smile with tears in our eyes?
We weep, we mourn, o sorrowful noise
When one so loved, dear friend, grows sick and dies.
How bright his life, how glad his laughter loud
His mind, as sharp as pointed quill, ink-dipp'd,
To scribe his poems for grateful crowds
His heart that loved, til laid in darkened crypt.
But smile we do, when think on him we can
His japes, his jests, and all his kindness did
Philosophy he's left us, life-long plan.
Remember well these words, Sir Gyrth has bid:
“Say I: A little song, a little dance,
And then a little seltzer down my pants.”
Like everyone else in the US school system, I studied a few Shakespearian sonnets in school. From that, and from hanging around a sonneteer in the SCA, I picked up the idea that a Shakespearian sonnet developed a single idea, which the final couplet then added a reversal or 'zinger' to. "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun" was the usual example.
I can't claim that a trip to Sonnets.org is anything like in-depth research, but it has brought me one tiny spoonful of dirt deeper into the subject. Their page on the basic sonnet forms (http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm) discusses the volta, or turn, present in the original Italian form. The rhyme words change, and with them, the thrust of the poem.
A Shakespearian sonnet, with its less restrictive rhyme scheme, doesn't insist on three turns to match the three changes. The volta *can* occur in the couplet, but it can also occur elsewhere. The ninth line is the traditional location in the Italian form, and Shakespeare puts it there sometimes, too. Sonnets.org gives Sonnet XXIX ("When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes") as an example. The first eight lines have the poet lamenting his bad fortune in talent, connections and money. At the ninth line, be begins to remember how happy his love makes him, until he would 'scorn to change his state with kings.'
I regret that I did not know Sir Gyrth, so I based my sonnet off of the eulogy by Starulf Haraldson of Ravenspur, posted to the Clan Oldcastle website (http://www.clanoldcastle.com/wordpress/?page_id=16). He said that Gyrth once requested the words of 'Chuckles,' whom I am guessing was a clown character on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, be read at his funeral: "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down my pants.” The iambic tetrameter couplet jumped out at me, and I thought that (with a few syllables of padding) it could serve as the final couplet of a Shakespearean sonnet.
The two themes of the sonnet are "Loss and Grief" followed by "Celebration," with the volta coming at line 9.