by Marvin French

These sonnets of mine were published in Telicom, The Journal of the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE), so they may have some value. The first won second prize for the year 2006 in ISPE’s annual poetry contest.


She wears a falseface painted to conceal
The passion that unmasking might reveal.
No wintry flush do her cheeks feel;
Her blushes are the flow of warmer tides.
A soft and yielding surface sometimes hides
A hard unbending core of disguised steel.
The grooving fissures open wide and seal,
Moving unmoved, as a long slow glacier slides.
She bears love’s bruises on her body only,
And still refuses to believe her act
Was but a woman’s wayward whim, a lonely
Facing of falsehood, turning her back on fact.
She smiles through tears, and frowns with laughing eyes;
She lies with truth, and tells the truth with lies.

DARK LADY (1958)

I stand unseen within my new love’s sight;
She knows me not when I am by her side.
The demure censor who is her constant guide
Allows no meeting of our eyes in flight.
I have lost my senses! I have no reason or right
To see, touch, hear, or smell what I am denied,
Yet would I want her for a second bride–
Her skin is tarnished but her beauty’s bright.
Darkness is good for love. They say in Hell
An infinite variety of joy
Once lay in dusky Cleopatra’s power.
I’d know it all, could I but briefly dwell
Within the realm of those reigning eyes, and annoy
Her censor to distraction for an hour.


The following verses are just exercises in poetic devices.

Exercise 1 – Doolittle’s Lament, to be read with a Cockney accent:

I always liked to look at girls,
But not in a lickrish way.
I always like to look at girls,
To see what their eyes would say.

It useter be, when you looked at girls,
That their eyes would be on you.
Your eyes would say, “I wish we could meet,”
And their eyes would say, “Me too.”

‘Ave you noticed these days, when you look at girls,
That their eyes are on the floor?
‘Ave you noticed these days, when you look at girls,
That they don’t look back no more?

Exercise 2

The willing quicksand yields to a pushing foot,
With sucking ooze and slow reluctant slime.

Exercise 3

What givers give they cannot give again;
The takers’ take repeats in endless train.
The talkers’ talk does not endure for long;
The singer sings an everlasting song.

Exercise 4

We bled our resolve in accordance with the bar;
The flesh we gave was meant but to be lent.
Hoping to bend, we bent our hopes too far,
And broke the brittle bones of our intent.