I've been reading Vikram Seth's novel-in-verse, The Golden Gate
, over the past couple of days. It is itself an homage to Alexander Pushkin's classic Eugene Onegin
, which in addition to being memorized and recited by generations of Russian schoolchidren was set to music in the opera by Tchaikovsky. The Golden Gate
(and Eugene Onegin
) both consist of hundreds of sonnets in iambic tetrameter in an interesting rhyme scheme now called (aptly) a "Pushkin stanza."
A Pushkinian sonnet has fourteen lines in iambic tetrameter with the rhyme scheme ABABCCDDEFFEGG. Tetrameter is a much faster-paced, lilting meter (just four feet of iambs) than the English pentameter (five feet) which Milton, Shakespeare, Keats, etc. used for their major works. Also, a Pushkinian sonnet has a further layer of intricacy to its rhyme scheme, which makes it more difficult to write and more pleasurable to read.
Within the fourteen lines of ABABCCDDEFFEGG, there is a pattern of alternating masculine and feminine rhymes to end each line. Masculine rhyme is when the last syllable of each line rhymes and is stressed ("...knew a cat/...lying on a mat") while in feminine rhyme, the last syllable of each line remains unstressed and therefore feels somewhat leftover, in my opinion ("...short than weighty"/"...circa nineteen-eighty"). Anyway, a Pushkin sonnet's fourteen lines come down FMFMFFMMFMMFMM. Yet another matter of form to consider in writing them, which makes the fact that anyone could string together enough of them to fill out a novel (and a great one, at that) even more amazing.
So, now that I've talked up the form so much, and inspired by a bit of literary "yeah, I can do that" and Big Trial, here are four Pushkinian sonnets on the madness of Big Trial and its seemingly inevitable and attendant lack of perspective...Saturday, 3:35am
I sometimes wonder, often nightly
And still more often as of late,
Are Baylor expectations likely
To make us think that "more" means "great"?
For instance, I've heard of Big Trials
With groundless verified denials.
Does PC prompt or else impose
Prodigious pens and pensive prose
Without regard to need or purpose
Because we have a form book and
Can e-file motions from the can?
And that just barely skims the surface
Of ways that playfight-trial tends
To sow discord and disrupt friends.
Here's how: the law is a vocation
And argument its stock and trade,
So with each cross-examination
A client's served and money's made.
But here, in faux
court with real pressure
You might not think you've won unless you
Can unmask lack of diligence
Or else exclude their evidence.
And so we go from each one hoping
To be prepared for class each day
To something else--another way
To snidely screw and send them coping.
As if for real the judge drinks beers
With half the jury of your peers.
Which brings me to my final issue:
The tribunal's a neophyte.
This means less rulings and more miscues--
He might not know hearsay, she might.
I don't mean to suggest that judges'
(In practice) brilliance never budges,
But that there's far less confidence
In PC jurists' competence.
The anger's born of research you did
While lesser, wronger counsel leads
The court--despite you--into weeds.
As Ron White says, you can't fix stupid.
And your thought now, whoever wins,
Is "two more dolts and two less friends."
Before you think this missive petty,
I must aver 'tis not my plight.
I'd never write something so pretty
To settle scores or else for spite.
No, all this comes from observations
At large and some from conversations.
The gist, I feel, needs no such proof;
I preach my feelings, not "the truth."
My point, with roundabout digressions,
Is that each trial exercise
(I don't know why it's a surprise)
Breeds sour tastes and spawns aggressions.
Here's my advice--some cris de coeur
"Just know your stuff" and "less is more."