Berkeley Sonnets

These poems are from a sequence of anthologies printed in the 1970s; however, I did continue to get sonnets for another twenty years—more than a thousand, I guess! -H.M.R.


The Dark Lady Replies to Sonnet 138

If words were arrows and thy pen a bow,
I would have suffered death a thousand times.
A true heart soaring high hath been brought low,
And made to beat in time with thy rude lines.

Why should'st thou think that I speak not the truth?
Judge not so harshly in thy righteous rage.
Hearts free of all resentment keep their youth,
And grow in strength with ev'ry year of age.

0, tell me not that I have been unkind;
Inquire into thine own embittered heart.
We often our own faults in others find;
Discover thy dark self in thy black art.

So, if thou wilt my Will back to me give,
Rise up from these low thoughts, and let us live.

—Bonnie Brasel 


Against Mr. A. L. Rowse's Naming of the Dark Lady

My dark, false love thou boldly claim'st to know,
And would'st discover her with eager pen,
Though I, much wiser, chose no name to show,
Preferring seasoned silence even then.
But thou, untempered by discretion's grace,
In thought most rude, in action rash, unfair,
Would'st raise thy upstart will to chiefest place,
Pressing thy point when wiser would forbear.
Thus thou, aroused by passion for a name,
Hast set thy pen to willful arguments
Which gull the innocent to fix thy claim,
Unwittingly, in willful ignorance.
Yet simple truth and tale in part agree,
Proving that both our ladies false may be.

—Patricia White


In Praise of the Literal

Above my mistress' nose, on either side,
Her eyes are firmly fixéd in her face;
Her lips, which smile when pleased or satisfied,
Beneath this self-same nose hold to their place.
This sonnet may, at this point, be attacked
For lack of simile and metaphor;
For dealing slavishly with concrete fact;
But since I'm neither bard nor troubador,
Poetic standards don't apply to me.
I won't say: "It's like that," or "It's like this."
I'll see a thing and tell you what I see,
Refusing to indulge in artifice.
So here's the truth, no versifier's lies:
My mistress' eyes are - like my mistress' eyes.

—George Wallace


A Light Reply from a Dark lady

My lover's eyes shine brighter than the sun;
His lips glow red as coral never could;
As snow is white, skin fairer is there none;
Nor temperament so mild as his is good.
Though Will would see black wires upon my head,
I find my loves hair gentle to the touch,
And liken it to strands of silken thread,
Long flowing streams of gold I love too much.
Should Will find perfumes give him more delight
Than does the breath in flight from my loves lip.
Those never could eclipse for me, nor blight,
His subtler savor, seeming fragrance dipped.
And by these things I know my love is rare,
For through Loves eyes there is no false compare.

—Teresa Chuh


To the Dark but Ever Sweet

In all this world of ever-changing foods,
One searches for some simple, constant fare,
To solve the puzzle of ones passing moods;
O Hershey Bar, thou art a meal most rare,
Dark, smooth, and sweet, with almonds or without,
Your flavor can be truly termed sublime,
Snug in my pocket with me on each route;
Such joy in ev'ry store for just a dime!*
While other wrappers change their shape and hue,
With flashy foils and multi-colored gowns,
Still you, Rolls-Royce of candy, since debut,
Remain through all the years in modest brown:
Tis happiness which nothing can surpass,
For me to see such humbleness with class.

—Liza Reitzes                         *1973!


Contra Verse

When reason pricks me to consider lust,
And how my wants dissemble noble love,
I swear in stern, judicious fashion thus:
To check those hum'rous fits, and tempered prove.
But when he nears me I'm teased into play,
No force of mind defends debility,
A touch prevails o'er wit in feelings fray,
And sense will yield to sensibility.
Then in a specious way I do attempt
To lend refinéd terms to our coy acts;
And, if my thoughts invite me to repent,
Yet our fine folly makes me feel no lacks.
That passion could by reason bridled be
Remains a truth unproven yet by me.

—Debbie Farrel


To the Only Begetter of These Sonnets

O thou who seekst to wage the war of wit
Gainst all whose thoughts maintain conformity,
And bravely striv'st to free what I have writ
From critic-minds enforcéd tyranny,
O, for my sake, do thou with pedants fight,
And sympathize with my untutor'd words
Tis not a question of whose right or wrong
That Natures mind-confounding art regards.
Though academics march with pompousness,
Still ambush them with sharpend views of man,
And prove (since thou hast humor without stress),
Victorious in controversies wan;
For thou art fair in knowledge without pride:
Those valiant without heat win praises wide.

—Judy Fields



No worthy education comes from this,
Just weary groans from out the mind's abyss.
It's almost dawn - I've been at it too long,
Hunting through night-hours the elusive Muse;
And nowhere can I find her - she's footloose,
Unless she's drowned, the termly tests among,
Or died near-senile, aged by long misuse.
No! She is gone for spite, I've no excuse!
I am a fool to give her such abuse.
But (what a miracle!), I'm nearly done
Without a help from her, that wandering one.
Yet still alone in tests I'll spend this day;
And just where she will be, I sure can say -
Out whoring with my memory, far away.

—Sarah Armstrong

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