James Tweedie’s Mostly Sonnets
While the sonnet may be the poetic form most closely associated with romance and love, poet James Tweedie uses it for a wide array of other themes and subjects as well — daily life, daydreaming by a river, a Christmas memory, travels through Scotland and Ireland, the beauty of a sunset, and even a pandemic disease like the Black Death.
His Mostly Sonnets: Formal Poetry for an Informal World includes 37 sonnets. The collection also contains 16 other poems that use traditional forms. Tweedie’s poetry depicts an eternal order underlying a superficially chaotic world, an understanding that sometimes myths — like the romantic view of war — need to be challenged, and the belief that we have much to learn from history.
A few of his sonnets embrace the theme of love, but most address other themes, like the value of daydreaming. He reminds us of a time when we were young, content to watch clouds in the sky, imagining what shapes they were taking, and how, as we grew older, we became focused on things we believed more important. But were they really?
My Life Is Lived Beneath a Dancing Sky
How often in my childhood I would lie
Upon my back and while the time away
Enchanted by this heavenly display.
But as years passed, I gave it up. But, why?
So many things consume my life these days.
I chase the sun by staring at the screen
Of my computer, busy as a bee.
No doubt the dancing heavens still amaze
The child whose idle eye takes in the scene.
Why should that idle child not be me?
Why, indeed, should that idle child not be all of us? The poem is a kind of lament for something lost, something that was important and is still, and perhaps we should turn off our computer screens, forget about breaking news and the latest political bombshell, and stare at the sky.
Tweedie is a retired Presbyterian pastor who earned degrees in music, humanities, divinity, and ministry. He is the author of numerous books, including novels, short stories, and practical theology, and six collections of poetry. His poems have been published in numerous online and print media. He also composes music, sells his photography, and writes and directs for a local repertory company. He lives in Washington State.
If you’d like to hear the “sound of a sunset,” consider the seven wonders of the ancient world, watch whales, study a daguerreotype, live (and perhaps die) in Pompeii, or take an early winter’s walk, then Mostly Sonnets will help you do all of those things and more. It’s a collection that focuses on the important and the vital, with an occasional touch of whimsy.
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