May: A Sonnet

By Henry Allen | May 16, 2019
Joe Doe/Flickr
Joe Doe/Flickr

When I say “May,” the word evokes different memories and emotions than when I say “October.” Over the course of my career, I’ve written about a range of feelings—relief, despair, the hope and horror of love—in poetry, reporting, and prose. As part of a yearlong series for the Scholar, each month I am contributing a new poem to a sonnet cycle, marking the changing seasons in the rhyme and meter of an Elizabethan verse.


Eternal May, the saddest month of all:
It’s young, it’s beautiful and it believes
that it will never die—sun on a wall
will follow every thunderstorm, the leaves
will look as if they’re chosen, set in place,
enameled trees will seem to sigh “of course.”
You feel nostalgic for right now, for grace
and permanence, all marriage, no divorce.
The vast cloud shadows stride across the land
and light lifts like a mood, a baseball shout.
Still, something here is shopworn, secondhand.
the world’s redeemed and once more you’ve missed out.
Nothing’s more wistful than eternity,
whatever that is, or you thought would be.

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