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Sonnetto Poesia

Remco van der Zwaag's Mini-Autobiography

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By profession I am a teacher of mathematics. My tastes
in the Arts bear demonstrable witness to my background.
I appreciate it when I am faced with any work of art,
whose hallmark is clarity of structure. So, it should
come as no surprise to you if I tell you I love the music
of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Given such tastes, it is no small wonder I have also
developed over the years a marked penchant for similar
structure in poetry, preferring as I do rhymed poetry with
clear metric structure. Of all the structured poetic genres,
the sonnet has always been and remains my favourite form.

A sonnet derives its structure from the dichotomy between
octave and sestet, its strict rhyming scheme and its use,
at least for the most part, of the iambic pentameter, at least
in English poetry. Composing a sonnet is entails a struggle
with all of these elements. The challenge is to write in a way
that does not betray this struggle. A truly polished sonnet
will appear to the reciter or reader to be melodically appealing
to the ear as well as aesthetically so to the eye.

For instance, no line should be visibly rhyme-driven.
All of these requirements for self-discipline translate into
a well-rounded, polished sonnet, a challenge to the mind,
and no mean feat.

Structural strictures can from time to time force lines
or verses on you, that would otherwise in all probability
never have occurred to you, had you been writing, for
instance, in free verse.

Johannes Der Mouw, a Dutch poet of the early years of
the Twentieth Century, was a gifted sonneteer. His poems
are regrettably not widely read in the Netherlands, while
outside of our country, they remain virtually unknown.

It is primarly for this reason that I have undertaken
to translate a few of them into English, so that Der Mouw
may finally enjoy the wider international audience, of
which he is so deserving.

A short biography of Der Mouw and an introduction to
his poetry can be found on my website. Three of my
translations are published in this E-Zine. Whether you
are bilingual Dutch-English, or English allophone,
I hope you enjoy his artistry and the polished beauty
of his verse as much as I do.

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To visit Remco's Web Page, please click here:

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Remco van der Zwaag