[These last three reflect my time at Hunter College. The first is the fruit of an assignment by John Hollander, poet, professor of High Renaissance and mentor, to write a Shakespearean sonnet (abab cdcd efef gg in iambic pentameter). I concentrated on Chaucer and I am pretty sure I read his whole canon. The last two reflect my love and respect.] Lady, they look doth violate my pride, I shake and quiver before thy cruel eye And bear those heavy arrowheads inside: As I fall to my knees, my heart doth cry: I know thou know’st, perforce, why I do sigh: Thou know’st I know that thou hast always lied. I know thee wanton, lascivious and sly, Yet love that goddess that thine eyes still hide. O Viola, this ink my pen doth spill As blood from open wounds doth gushing pour, To make red soup to feed thy passion more And fire thy lust to take again thy kill. Thy violence is thus to me sweet pain: To be by thee forever often slain. sss Chaucer’s penultimate request His index finger lifted. “Carry me to the top of the hill where the dirt cannot bury the rocks, and trees squeeze through crevasses, place my cot near the summit.” “Thank you.” My last view and my eyes cannot see. The winds rustle me. Couldn’t I have finished. All the business I accomplished, but those Tales will be noticed. Unfinished! Yet the epitome visible, recognizable. My song will be heard in spite of negligent scribes. Tantalizing imperfection. And Troilus stands. For me, too, it is enough. The air smells fresh with buds of spring. The trees shed their nakedness, birds perch among the new plush and sing old songs. The chicks squeak. “Alice, I am ready to go down.” “I am sorry, my lord, the carriers have gone for the nonce.” Oh, will the despair grow upon me here, too! sss A complaint unto violence, Imitated from Chaucer I I laid in bed, full naked alone. Awake, I watched the sun creep along the sheets shaping my legs alone. Those birds singing! no they shouldn’t complain, they tunefully greet the morning sun, ‘tis me that wallows in pain. Occasionally, now and then, she comes to me. When she gets back around to me, I fall on my knees, I kiss her thighs, roll my gentle head back, roll my eyes. To whom shall I then complain of my distress? Shall I complain unto my lady free? No, then would I never again her see. Neither should I carry my plight unto her men. II So full was his heart of jealousy he could not help but to go to see one of those men his love loved so freely. She right then lay by that man’s side, so he, so full aflame, burnt inside, could not raise voice nor arms, instead he withdrew, pent up, himself beside. “I cannot stand to go to bed, I cannot stand still for long I must find release from these jealousies or else I’m afraid, though it is much against my nature, I shall go mad. You can understand that, can’t you?”

Copyright James Phoenix 2017

updated 5/7/2017