Duncan’s Expansions

July 31, 2011

We get all sorts of poems sent to us here at Snakeskin, but it’s not often that we are sent an example of a poetic form we haven’t come across before. The August issue, though, will contain a sequence by Duncan Gillies MacLaurin; the poems are sonnets, but of a special kind; each is based on an aphorism. Here’s an example:

Persuasion

We never saw the crisis coming. Why
should we have? Saying it was otherwise,
do you suppose your hindsight will disguise
our failure? Why should I be doing my
utmost to hide the truth? Why should I try
to let a pack of pretty-pretty lies
encourage me to edit and revise
the story of our love and say goodbye?
Beautiful as they are, these hearts that kiss
for ever, let them be the cards we pick
the next time we go chasing married bliss!
Useful concerns are what a lunatic
encourages; let blind vindictiveness
itself be proud to never miss a trick!

It’s a good enough sonnet in its own right, but look at the first word in each line, and you’ll find a fourteen-word saying by Goethe:

Persuasion

We never saw the crisis coming. Why
should we have? Saying it was otherwise,
do you suppose your hindsight will disguise
our failure? Why should I be doing my
utmost to hide the truth? Why should I try
to let a pack of pretty-pretty lies
encourage me to edit and revise
the story of our love and say goodbye?
Beautiful as they are, these hearts that kiss
for ever, let them be the cards we pick
the next time we go chasing married bliss!
Useful concerns are what a lunatic
encourages; let blind vindictiveness
itself be proud to never miss a trick!

Duncan MacLaurin has given us four of these very neat poems. Now I want to try out the form for myself…

August Snakeskin will come online on the first of the month, as usual.

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3 Responses to “Duncan’s Expansions”

  1. Norman D Says:

    Excellent! I’ll be watching out for them 🙂

  2. Miriam Says:

    Yes, very clever! I like the poem and the aphorism.


  3. […] editor of Snakeskin gave me a great shout-out prior to the publication of my four-sonnet sequence, “Expanding Notes” […]


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