Monday, October 1, 2012

The Dream of Perpetual Sunshine

As a former English teacher, one of the many courses I taught was Creative Writing.  Naturally, we had a unit on poetry.  I wrote the curriculum and called this “Poetry Like the Pros.”  Students would model their own work after well-recognized and oft-praised poets.  For example, we did a nature walk where they obtained sensory details and then wrote a poem in the style of Robert Frost.  They also had to experiment with different forms of poetry.  One of my favorites has always been the sestina.  If you’re a writer or blogger, this is a fun form of poetry  to try your own hand at. 

The sestina, a French form, is an intricate form of six unrhymed stanzas of six lines each, followed by a Tercet (three lines). This type of form works well for the poet who wants to examine a subject from different viewpoints.  The sestina depends on the repetition of end-words, but be aware that only the end word repeats, not as in other French forms where the entire line repeats.

Choose any 6 words, such as:

a) daughter  b) sunshine  c) voice  d) garden  e) music  f) joy

The pattern:

Stanza 1: a, b, c, d, e, f

Stanza 2: f, a, e, b, d, c 

Stanza 3: c, f, d, a, b, e

Stanza 4: e, c, b, f, a, d

Stanza 5: d, e, a, c, f, b

Stanza 6: b, d, f, e, c, a

Tercet: ab, cd, ef

The Dream of Perpetual Sunshine

I have awaited your arrival my entire life, daughter
Believed fervently that you would erase the clouds and color the sky with your sunshine
I have prayed and prayed, God finally acknowledging my voice
I planted the seed of you in my mind – an ever-blooming garden
Your father and I held each other and collaborated on a gentle duet of music
The tears now gone – the frown now faded – you are my joy

I lived a life abundant with sin and sorrow, devoid of joy
Until I first held you in my arms, my daughter
To the chaos and cacophony, you brought temperance and a sweet, soothing music
My child – my love – my beautiful – my ethereal – my joy
You will bloom and grow in this life – Sarayu’s garden
I hope that in your silence, you might hear his mighty voice

Sweet child, so young, you have already found your unique voice
Your voice – your laughter – your gentle cooing – brings unto me pure joy
One day we will plod and plant together a simple, artful garden
In the garden, you will come to know strength and beauty, my precious daughter
The lily, the daisy, the lilacs too, all of these, as you, shall grow with sunshine
And the rose will be the grand conductor over every other flower as they  gleefully hum his music

Until this day, I have never heard a truer tune – such beloved, blessed music
Nothing – not Mozart, not Beethoven, nor Chopin – could compare to that cry – my own child’s voice
All failed to compare – even the warm, welcoming embrace of the summer sunshine
I wonder if, in all my life, I will ever know a greater, more genuine joy
Than the birth of my first child – my so deeply cherished own daughter
You are more grandiose – more exalted – than even the deepest red rose of the garden

You shall one day be required to tend to the dirt and weeds of your own garden
And darkness may drown out the light, a steely silence replace the exhalant music
You may then know the secret your mother holds, my own fragile daughter
And you might cringe at the sound of your own voice
You will search in the cupboards, the bureau drawers, the arms of strangers for anything resembling joy
And yet you will be denied those radiant rays of the now fickle sunshine

But I will always offer my love, my own warm embrace, even when skies are grey, my only sunshine
And I will uproot all those wicked weeds that attempt to cling to you in the great garden
Do not fear – do not lose hope – in time again, you will become well acquainted with joy
You won’t have to listen hard – or hush out any voices – to hear the music
Stronger now – wiser now – beaten, but not bruised – emerges a far more brilliant voice
They can never, ever quiet your shine, your strength, your shout, my daughter


I wish for my daughter to live in perpetual sunshine
I know her voice may falter if she fails to nurture her green garden
But I know, too, that even when the music is loud and out of tune, there still exists joy – joy – joy  


  1. First of all, this was ah-may-zing. Beautifully amazing.

    I majored in English, and I once wanted to be a teacher. I'm realizing now that I am probably too dumb to do so. I can barely write a haiku.

    Your tagline about relatives had me tripping. I think youre my new favorite Blogger.

    1. Thanks. I just checked out your blog today, but didn't yet get around to commenting on the chapters. I especially enjoyed your mention of your self-worth being determined by comments.

  2. love this! i write poetry, but kind of unintentionally, so it does not have set forms or stanza arrangement, anything like that. You took something that could sound forced and made it into a true love song. very beautiful.

  3. Ah, I remember sestinas! I like patterns, so I was always a fan. Very nice.

  4. This is just beautiful. I am welling up over here. What beauty, what joy lies here in your words. Thank you so much for this. I needed to read this today.

    1. Thank you so much! My daughter brings such beauty and joy into my life, so it was easy and fun!

  5. Wow! This is such an inspiration! My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for some time now, and we are on the journey. You have inspired me to write a poem to our future baby.

    1. Good luck to you! They are such blessings. I had to postpone pregnancy for a bit because I had two transplants. As soon as the doctor gave me the okay, we were all over that baby making business.

  6. What a fun exercise! And a lovely poem about a lovely young lass!

  7. great poem and we are quite similar in our pasts so no wonder I'm following you. even if you followed me first.