• By Seymour Mayne

Word Sonnets by Seymour Mayne


The word sonnet is a relatively new variation of the traditional form. In essence, it is a fourteen line poem, with one word set for each line. Concise and usually visual in effect, this “miniature” version can contain one or more sentences, as the articulation requires.


Each of the word sonnets in the following sequences attempts to be a pithy and suggestive poem in its own right. Many draw on the seasons and also aim for a compact resonance that may attract the reader to return to them again and again.


Ricochet


Go

find

something

in

the

dark:

snow

reflected

off

itself,

a

ricochet

of

illumination.


Le Ricochet


Pars

à

sa

recherche

dans

l’obscurité :

la

neige

se

renvoyant

sa

blancheur,

ricochet

d’illumination


Yiddish


Echo

of

whisper

as

distant

ghosts

in

their

millions

dream

the

living

into

speech.


Le Yiddish


Un

écho

de

chuchotements

d'innombrables

fantômes

lointains

rêvent

que

les

vivants

reprennent

la

parole.


Equinox


If

early

light

returns,

is

there

renewed

hope

for

ailing

tongues

rising

in

darkness?


L’équinoxe


Les

lueurs

matinales

revenues,

est-

il

redonné

aux

langues

souffrantes

érigées

dans

l’obscurité

d’espérer ?


Stone


You

have

come

and

gone

and

none

know

your

voice

or

name

but

stone.


La pierre


Tu

es

venu,

parti.

Ta

voix,

ton

nom,

sont

connus

seulement

de

la

pierre.


Light


Who

believes

in

light

everlasting,

enlightening

silence,

darkness

and

the

first

and

final

word?


La lumière


Qui

croit

aux

lueurs

éternelles,

silences

éclairants,

ténèbres,

au

premier

et

au

dernier

mot?


French Translations by Sabine Huynh


Seymour Mayne is the author, editor, or translator of more than seventy books. His own writings have been translated into many languages and are represented in over a hundred anthologies. Literary trailblazer and editor, he has compiled groundbreaking anthologies and critical texts. His latest collections include The Old Blue Couch and Other Stories (Ronald P. Frye & Co., 2012), Cusp: Word Sonnets (Ronald P. Frye & Co., 2014), and Le chant de Moïse (Mémoire d’encrier, 2018), a bilingual English-French selection of biblical poems. His most recent, a book-length offering of new work, Perfume: Poems and Word Sonnets (Ronald P. Frye & Co., 2020), marks sixty years since his first writings appeared in a Canadian literary journal. His collection of Word Sonnets is entitled Ricochet: Word Sonnets/Sonnets d’un mot (2011). An extensive volume of new and selected word sonnets is planned for publication in the coming year. Noted as the leading international innovator of the word sonnet, he has given readings and lectured widely on this unique new ‘miniature’ form. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Ottawa.