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The imagist shibboleth vs Shakespeare’s Sonnet 15

In terms of its theme and emotional dynamics 15 is one of Shakespeare’s simpler sonnets, but it has enormous power. We feel this from the very start:

When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,

The power is partly in the sheer vastness of that initial assertion and partly in the explosive way vastness is contrasted with littleness in the second line.  This creates an extreme sense of suspense – where can he be going with this? – which is in itself intensely involving. The third line makes a similar contrast but far from tamely … Continue Reading


Three things keep drawing me back to Dante’s Commedia: the skill, inventiveness and human depth of his story-telling, his lyrical genius, and the beauty of his terza rima meter. His use of terza rima can only be enjoyed in Italian, which for me involves heavy dependence on English translations and on the notes and glosses in modern Italian given in Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi’s editions of the Commedia for Zanichelli and Oscar Mondadori. In this essay I want to focus on comparing how the narrative and lyrical aspects of the poems come through in Ned Denny’s freely adaptive poetic version, … Continue Reading