Sonnet: Eternal Sparrow

Two thousand years ago a tiny bird
Loved by a Roman beauty met his death.
Catullus was by sweet compassion stirred
And penned light lines, as fresh as baby’s breath.
“She loved him more than her own eyes,” quoth he,
“For he was gentle.” Furthermore he told
Of their affection pure that held the key
To sacred love, precious to her as gold.
That sparrow and his mistress live anew,
In everlasting, perfect adoration.
The poet wrote, therefore there’s no adieu,
And their true bond still offers inspiration.
A poem can send echoes throughout time,
To touch our hearts today with love sublime.

Sonnet: Eternal Sparrow

Ingrid Collins

London, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

I love the challenge and the discipline of form poems and the Sonnet, Shakesperian form, I find particularly satisfying to attempt. Iambic pentameter allows me to pack quite a lot of thoughts into the lines and gives some leeway when it comes to arranging the rhymes. The final couplet as summary of the sonnet’s message are never easy and this was no exception.

I was inspired to write this because of the irony it contains. Catullus was passionately in love with a legendary Roman beauty of a noble house who, with her brother, was quite psychopathic – even by ancient Roman political standards. The poet was blind to her faults and extolled her beauty but she showed no tenderness towards him. The only living thing she loved was her pet sparrow. When the bird died she was devastated, prompting Catullus to write a poem which began “Passer mortuus est meae puellae. Passer deliciae meae puellae, quam plus il’occulis suis amabat, nam mellitus erat – suamque norat ipsam tam bene quam puella matrem” (I’m sure there must be spelling mistakes in there, but hopefully no ancient Romans are reading this piece!) Translated it says, “My girl’s sparrow is dead. The sparrow of my delicious girl, whom she loved more than her own eyes, for he was sweet – and he knew her better than the girl knew her own mother.”

I marvel at the process of creating works of art, especially when the artist is drivien by passion (in Catullus’ case, unrequited love). If the theme can transcend time and cultures and appeal to everyone’s human experience, then the dimension of time collapses and we can touch the moment when the poem was written.

Artwork Comments

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