Two Love Sonnets


I was always the awkward one.  I remember at school in English we did sonnets on afternoon.  For most of us it was information we saw no need for.   There’s two forms of sonnets (bet you did not know that).

  • Shakespearian – 14 lines divided 4 4 4 2
  • Italian – also 14 lines, but  divided 4 4 3 3.

And Sir (I’ve forgotten the teacher’s name) asked us which version we preferred.  Most of us were thoroughly bored by the whole thing, but since he’d already made it plain he preferred the Italian version everyone stuck their hand up for the Italian.

I’d looked at the two examples he gave , and decided I quite liked the Shakespearian one. I like the rhyming couplet at the end. So I stuck my mitt up and said so.  I was the only kid to do that.  I don’t think Sir liked it.

I’ve been stroppy ever since. and getting worse (or maybe better?)  with age

Anyway, here are two sonnets to my wife.

I loved you when I saw you first in Hall

The reference in v 2 is to the time when I was on a respirator in intensive care, following a motor-bike crash.  I wasn’t supposed to survive, but my wife came in every day and read an Arthur Upfield thriller to me, breaking off each day at a cliffhanger, to make me want to keep going to find out what happened next.

So I wrote this sonnet, for her.

I loved you when I saw you first in Hall
A girl who sat and laughed as young men joked.
And then on evenings late on me you’d call
And eat my homemade cake, while I just hoped.

Or when you held my hand against the dark,
And promised you’d stay with me come what may
You read me books, and broke off at some part
In love to make me live another day.

They’ll say it’s now our evening, we should rest
But why, when there is so much still to do
Of travel, books, of every joy and zest
And my fair sweet heart every day to woo.

My promise made, to break it at my peril
To ever love and honour my wife Beryl.

copyright Malcolm Cowen 2008

You have my love, that is the simple truth

In 2016 I was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus.  The initial prognosis was not good, but further scans suggested it might be curable with chemo and surgery.  It was risky, but the alternative was a dead certainly.  The chemo went well, and on the last night I woke up with this sonnet in my head. It’s about how I feel about my cancer, and how much I owe to my wife’s support. I hope you like it.

You have my love, that is the simple truth
Because by love you earned that sovereign right
Because we made a vow in far-off youth
And kept it in this latest darkest night

You stood beside me when I failed to cope
With grief and held my hand against the dark
You gave me strength, when we could find no hope
Of dawn or any night-dispelling spark

But hope has come, the long night had an end
And waiting now is different agony
And maybe hope will prove again false friend
Or maybe be the path that sets me free

Whatever comes, I have you by my side
My sweetheart true, who was in youth my bride

copyright Malcolm Cowen 2016


 Posted by at 9:28 am

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