The unkind question

For E. L.

So when you asked if being deaf or blind
which one I’d choose, if choice I had to take,
the options offered hurt, made my heart ache
to realise I’d have to be resigned
to sight or sound; the question was unkind.

Not hear her voice? What, no, for heavens sake!
Or not see her each morning when I wake?
I think I would soon start to lose my mind.

Between the devil and the deep blue sea
or that hard place that stands against the rock
you’d have me lie. Well, I won’t take my pick,
I’ll have them both for surely both suit me.
Until the final tick comes out of clock
against such awful choices I shall kick.

The homework for the poetry writing class was to write a sonnet;
I chose to write a Petrarchan sonnet, with a rhyme scheme abba abba cde cde


4 thoughts on “The unkind question

    1. Calmgrove Post author

      ‘Stanza’ — a lovely Italian word, though of course here meaning not ‘estancia’ but ‘estrofa’ — is too strong a word, I’ve just divided the sonnet up according to the sense and the sentences. But thank you, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Silvia! Three times, eh? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Silvia

        Yeah, estrofa is also a Spanish word same as Italian.

        These two verses, I don’t know, I just like them a lot,
        Between the devil and the deep blue sea
        or that hard place that stands against the rock

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Calmgrove Post author

          Thanks again, Silvia. Of course, you’ll know these lines are based on two common English phrases, the metaphors “between the devil and the deep blue sea” (with its deliberate alliteration) and “between a rock and a hard place” (also implying alternatives that are not really much different and therefore no choice at all): I just adjusted the second phrase to fit the rhyme and the metre.

          English is rich in these metaphors for false dichotomies — “out of the frying pan into the fire” is another, as is “Hobson’s choice”. Wikipedia explains this last phrase as
          A Hobson’s choice is a free choice in which only one thing is offered. Because a person may refuse to accept what is offered, the two options are taking it or taking nothing. In other words, one may “take it or leave it”. The phrase is said to have originated with Thomas Hobson (1544–1631), a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England, who offered customers the choice of either taking the horse in his stall nearest to the door or taking none at all.

          Another phrase is “like it or lump it” (also alliterative), also “put up or shut up” (meaning ‘explain yourself or else stop complaining’).

          Does it say a lot about us Brits that we have so many similar sayings? 🙂



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