Someone said that the sonnet form reflects the shape and movement of a single thought. Or words roughly to that effect. For the last of my month of sonnets, I picked as a ‘first draft’ a single paragraph from the book I’m currently reading, Tissa Balasuriya’s Mary and Human Liberation. I chose the paragraph because it featured something akin to the ‘turn’ of a sonnet rather than because of the strength of the idea – the book’s liberation theology is much richer and provocative than this paragraph might suggest. Here it is, for the sake of transparency. It’s from the section on the 9th Station (Jesus falls the third time) in the chapter ‘A Marian Way of the Cross’.
Today, in spite of the agonizing poverty of the poor, especially in impoverished countries, their ruling élites and foreign companies and governments continue to press them further and further. More debts are imposed on them. Subsidies are cut. Services are reduced. Almost everything is comercialised. The weak go to the wall. Entire countries suffer from exhaustion and internal conflict results. The poor and marginalized experience deeper and deeper troubles: poverty, unemployment, insecurity, loneliness, drugs, divorce, broken families, neglected children, depression, trauma, suicides. Sri Lanka is said to have one of the world’s highest rates of suicide. To free ourselves from all these troubles at personal and societal levels, we need to seek the values of unselfish love, justice and peace, for which Jesus died.
And here’s the sonnet:
Sonnet 14: The ninth station
So now the wretched of the earth
grow still more wretched year by year.
Debts grow, of service there’s a dearth,
and everything’s for sale. We hear
élites play polo, compradors
send wealth from poor to richer shores.
Whole nations tear themselves asunder,
send underclasses further under:
poor, unemployed, depressed, neglected,
stoned, insecure, self-harming. Poor:
the social ills corrupt our core.
When Jesus died, his times reflected
ours. Now seek, below, above,
justice, peace, unselfish love
And so we say farewell to LoSoRhyMo. As with NaNoWriMo, the ONLY thing that mattered was output, even though I aimed for 14 sonnets where the novels-in-a-month writers have to produce 50 000 words. It was all about quantity, not quality, and it turned out to be fun to have to produce for your generally forgiving eyes regular rhyming things that weren’t too embarrassingly terrible.
Apart from having fun, I’ve learned a lot – about sonnets, about the process of committing my mental processes to paper. A perceptive friend described the exercise as ‘an invigorating lesson in the pleasures of structured communication and the virtues of practice’. I’m glad it was that for him – it was doubly so for me.