I did some revision on a sonnet earlier this morning, one I wrote a few months ago called My Friend, Marie. It was one of these poems that was almost working – but not quite – and being on the brink is never sufficient.
Part of the problem was its Petrarchan structure and a stupid –ife rhyme I’d chosen in the octet. Do you know how many –ife words rhyme perfectly? Not many. I’d used wife, knife and life. So I had fife, strife, rife, and not much else to play with, to finish off the octet. The line I’d drafted was the poem’s main weakness – far too bland and obvious.
This morning I found something much better, but I'm now reflecting on whether I’ve achieved the desired meshing of form and content, or if the form has scored a point against the content. I don’t want to post it here, as I may be about to send it to a magazine, but it strikes me (not for the first time) that a single word or phrase is enough to kill off an otherwise strong poem.