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The Nature Sonnets

ISBN: 1-928589-10-3

By Jill Williams

Review by: Moira Richards

01/01/07

I used to think that sonnets were slightly stuffy, old-fashioned, mostly love poems, but I've recently broadened my reading of what poets are writing in this form and have discovered that they can be remarkably varied in subject and mood.

Jill Williams shows the fun and humorous side of sonnets in the twenty-four poems that comprise The Nature Sonnets. She demonstrates her skills in the form with poems written in five different styles of sonnet, including an original style that has a rhyme scheme derived from the letters of her name.

The Nature Sonnets is grouped into sections that celebrate various aspects of the natural world. For example, Creatures to feast on includes a Terza Rima sonnet narrated by Estrella The Dolphin who aspires to be the star of the dolphin show. She introduces herself with these lines:

 

Estrella is my name. That means a star.

And star is what Ill be one of these days.

If only Chico wouldn't leap so far.               (40)

 

 Another witty sonnet from that section entitled, A Bird's Life, is about a lovely, lively, warbler that sings so beautifully outside the narrator's kitchen window and the poem ends with;

 

I'm open-mouthed with awe at how she sings.

And so, I see, is Abigail. Our cat.                 (38)

 

Some sonnets chat a little about weather (and disclose a lads attempts to charm a young lady) as in To Hail With It:

 

What makes it hail instead of rain? she asks.

I have no ready answer. So I lie.                            

 ...

Is she impressed? You bet she is, big guy.

And so am I with just how slick I am.                  (17)

 

and another makes it clear perhaps, that the young man has little chance of success, for the narrator of, Waiting For Sunset, seems to think that experience is like, well

 

It's almost like I'm going on a date

With some new man I've never met before.

...

Ah, Sunset. What perfection in your face!

No mortal man could possibly compete.                 (16)

 

 But since I am South African, my favorite poem in Jill Williams book has to be the sonnet entitled, Africa in which the narrator comes to visit my home continent with such excitement,

 

Safari-bound, camcorder set to go,

I tried so hard to capture what I'd seen.                 

 ...

But images on film will never keep.

Like jackal pups protected in their lair.         

And so I asked if I might leave the jeep                   (8)

 

This small book of short fourteen-line poems should delight especially, readers like myself, who may be new to the possibilities of this poetic form. A form in which life's experiences and thoughts can be so neatly and succinctly portrayed in page-sized bits.     

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