WHAT'S IN A WORD ?
On her twentieth birthday, I gave D. a sonnet written with my own hand in calligraphic script on imitation parchment; real parchment would have been impossibly expensive and, anyway, I wouldn't have known how to use it. But at least the sentiments in the verse were not an imitation of reality. Ten years later I gave her a second sonnet, and a practice was established which has continued; 1973 (if I'm spared) will see the sixth of such verses, and I hope to live long enough to add more, though in the nature of things it will be remarkable if it happens. I now have her permission to show you the first five. Be aware of the privilege - she doesn't show them to everyone.
The present verse, I seem to recall, had its birth in the strangely satisfying experience of seeing her eyes fill with tears on reading those sonnets. Why, I asked myself, should joy and sadness both give rise to such a response ? Is a puzzlement . . . The verse itself is an unrhymed sonnet, if such a thing exists. I have an old-fashioned liking for "the ring of words" as exemplified in rhyme, so this verse was something of an experiment. I'm not at all sure that such a departure from customary practice is justified, but the reader must judge.
But place it thus, and give it company
W. G. S.