Help Us Write a Sonnet: Line SevenPrint
By David Lehman
June 17, 2014
How like a prison is my cubicle,
And yet how far my mind can freely roam
From gaol to Jerusalem, Hell to home.
Freedom ends or starts with a funeral.
Say what must die inside that I may not
Cast down this die and cross the Rubicon
Thence to the true hell: the heat of Tucson
In the competition for line seven, Lewis Saul’s “Thence to the true hell: the heat in Tucson” prevailed in the end because it swiftly conducts us from ancient Rome to contemporary Arizona by way of the allegorical landscape of the inferno introduced in line three.
Jerry Williams (“Or beat a fake retreat like Genghis Khan”) and Paul Michelsen (“With luck I’ll bang a gong with Genghis Khan”) made me smile, and I was tempted by Millicent Caliban’s brilliant rhyme and promise of office romance: “Seduce the boss and try this ruby on.” A popular song lurked behind Jamie’s musical “For I will carry on, my wayward son.” Christa Whitsett Overbeck boldly offered a total change of direction: “Alter course! Submit to insurrection.”
Line eight bears a big responsibility. It needs to rhyme with line five (“Say what must die inside that I may not”) and to complete the first movement of the poem, for in the traditional sonnet a pivot or turn occurs after line eight.
I ask all players to limit yourselves to a maximum of five entries per week—your best five lines.
And do keep in mind the entire seven lines of our poem in progress, and not just line seven, as you vie to create our next line, please.
How like a prison is my cubicle, (DL)
And yet how far my mind can freely roam (Leo Braudy)
From gaol to Jerusalem, Hell to home. (Brian Anderson and his 12th grade composition class)
Freedom ends or starts with a funeral. (Frank Bidart)
Say what must die inside that I may not (MQ)
Cast down this die and cross the Rubicon (Anna E. Moss)
Thence to the true hell: the heat of Tucson (Lewis Saul)
Leave your suggestion for the next line in a comment below. Please limit your entries to five.
David Lehman is a poet and the general editor of The Best American Poetry series. He teaches at The New School in New York City.
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