Shakespeare in the Square


The PPL Poetry Podcasting Blog presents Sonnet XXI and a variation by Elizabeth Socolow in honor of tomorrow’s annual Princeton Rep Company/Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival Shakespear-E-thon

Sonnet XXI

So is it not with me as with that Muse ,
Stirr’d by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse,
Making a couplement of proud compare’
With sun and moon, with earth and sea’s rich gems,
With April’s first-born flowers, and all things rare,
That heaven’s air in this huge rondure hems.
O! let me, true in love, but truly write,
And then believe me, my love is as fair 
As any mother’s child, though not so bright
As those gold candles fix’d in heaven’s air:
Let them say more that like of hearsay well;
I will not praise that purpose not to sell.


She tells me I am,
says with a story like mine
leaving me alone like this,
there is no other name for it,
and she’d rather be queer in her way, with someone,
than like me, without, even if my orientation is
the more common one.
If you’re that different in what happened to you,
you’re queer like the rest of us
, she asserts,
and I think but don’t say, just then,
if I am, everyone is, since eveyone has a story that’s different,
depending on the angle of hindsight.

I keep thinking of the rear view mirrors on my car
every time anyone talks of orientation,
the fine tuning needed to get the angle right,
how looking back has everything to do with it–
orientation, and that there’s no way of knowing
where they come from–
all the cars, or it–
even though we scan backwards
to see how we have to move ahead.

And if we all are, the only thing about it
is in the negotiation at the front end,
the chaste kiss, the don’t touch me any other way,
the sidling away and gliding toward,
the close but no cigar of desire,
the history of intimacy, only there,
which is always particular as a sunset,
no two ever the same, all astonishing,
that we mustn’t make assumptions,
have to find out what is wanted,
and what must be closed off.

Elizabeth Socolow, twice the winner of a New Jersey State Council for the Arts grant, is the author of two published volumes of poetry, Laughing at Gravity: Conversations with Isaac Newton (Beacon 1988) and Between Silence and Praise (Ragged Sky Press 2006). She has taught literature and poetry at high schools and colleges in the Detroit area and in New Jersey, and currently gives courses for Senior Citizens with the Evergreen Forum at the Suzanne Patterson Center in Princeton. Queer was  published in Sensations Magazine Issue 60, 2006 “Retro” {ISSN1053-9115}

Published in: on April 21, 2007 at 10:38 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Join Princeton Rep Company/Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival today from 2-4 pm in Palmer Square for Shakespeare in the Square Shakespear-e-thon! Here are two more variations on Sonnet XXI. […]

  2. Correction: “Queer” was published in Issue 40 (not 60) of Sensations Magazine. The 300-page 2006 issue is now sold out.

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