Sonnet with a Different Letter at the End of Every Line

By George Starbuck 1931–1996 George Starbuck

for Helen Vendler

O for a muse of fire, a sack of dough,   
Or both! O promissory notes of woe!   
One time in Santa Fe N.M.
Ol’ Winfield Townley Scott and I ... But whoa.

One can exert oneself, ff,
Or architect a heaven like Rimbaud,
Or if that seems, how shall I say, de trop,   
One can at least write sonnets, a propos   
Of nothing save the do-re-mi-fa-sol   
Of poetry itself. Is not the row
Of perfect rhymes, the terminal bon mot,   
Obeisance enough to the Great O?

“Observe,” said Chairman Mao to Premier Chou,   
“On voyage à Parnasse pour prendre les eaux.   
On voyage comme poisson, incog.”

George Starbuck, “Sonnet with a Different Letter at the End of Every Line” from The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades. Copyright © 2003 by University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Reprinted with the permission of The University of Alabama Press.

Source: The Works: Poems Selected from Five Decades (2003)

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Poet George Starbuck 1931–1996

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 George  Starbuck


George Starbuck's songs of protest are usually concerned with love, war, and the spiritual temper of the times. John Holmes believes that "there hasn't been as much word excitement . . . for years," as one finds in Bone Thoughts. Harvey Shapiro points out that Starbuck's work is attractive because of its "witty, improvisational surface, slangy and familiar address, brilliant aural quality . . .," and adds that Starbuck may . . .

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Humor & Satire

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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