Poetry Friday: “Sonnet 10”

I’m in Ohio right now at Lit Youngstown’s Annual Fall Literary Festival, but wanted to share a poem that hasn’t been seen for a while. This post was originally pubished exactly 9 years ago, the first week of Oct. 2012 – barely two months after I’d first created this blog! The poem, however, is older than that. With the leaves turning and the air becoming cooler, I thought today might be the perfect opportunity to bring this back for all to see. Hope you like it!


Y’know…now that I think about it…

I should’ve come up with a title for this poem.

For some reason, I just never got around to it.  I wish I could find the original, which had the date of completion on it (I’m sure it’s packed away somewhere around here) but I’d guess that I wrote this around 2000. 

We were living in Highgate, Vermont, at the time and I was home on the front porch, looking at the field across the road and the line of multi-colored trees that stretched behind it.  I think it was late September, but it must have been a cool, early fall because I recall the trees had already lost a significant amount of leaves, which spurred me to write this.

It’s never been published but is still one of my favourites; I’ve always loved Elizabethan sonnets, so there are elements of an older, more traditional style, but I hope you like it. For more poetry, please visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem for today’s complete Poetry Friday roundup!

Sonnet 10

The dark green trees, so tender yestermonth,
Have now begun a turn of gruesome hue
And sanguine shades make manifest a life
With which the leaves the sun cannot imbue.
Where once youth’s shine had bourgeoned through these hills
And sweetness of the air perfumed the land,
Now sullen limbs hang low, with fingers crack’d
As if by Hodur’s cold and mighty hand.
The souls come creeping, seeping through worn skin –
An erubescent glow becomes a cry
To Heaven; stately corpses standing tall
Are beckoning us all to watch them die.
While hushful tears drop silently to ground,
To tread upon them, ‘tis a deaf’ning sound.

© 2000 Matt F. Esenwine, all rights reserved



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21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “Sonnet 10”

  1. Beautiful, especially Now sullen limbs hang low, with fingers crack’d

    And the corpses standing tall. I seem to love death imagery in poems, and fall is the most awesome time for that!


  2. wellfedpoet

    I can almost hear this in your deep, dramatic voice — it would lend itself so well to performance. Have you ever considered including audio when you post poems? Always wonderful to have a great reader lift poetic imagery even further off the page!


    1. I’ve thought about that, Sharon – and yet for some reason, I never do! (Note to self…DO IT.) Thank you, though…I’ll definitely try to remember to do that. Considering I make my living with my voice, it shouldn’t be this hard to remember!


  3. Isn’t this gorgeous! I love the formal diction and the interesting words: yestermonth, erubescent, sanguine, burgeoned, imbue… My favorite part, though, is the turn from silence to sound (I hear crackles) in the last line. Nicely done!


  4. Glad you liked it, Violet! I’ve always been partial to the great classic sonnets of Shakespeare, Shelley, et al…so I wanted to write something in that more traditional style, without being too heavy-handed.


  5. Thank you, Robyn – I appreciate it! Personally, my favourite lines are “stately corpses standing tall / Are beckoning us all to watch them die” because I felt they really evoke that somber beauty I was going for.


  6. Wonderful poem, Matt! I particularly love these lines that contrast live with death.

    “Where once youth’s shine had bourgeoned through these hills
    And sweetness of the air perfumed the land,
    Now sullen limbs hang low, with fingers crack’d
    As if by Hodur’s cold and mighty hand.”

    Here’s a funny-I had to google Hodur and mistyped Hodor. I couldn’t understand why you used a metaphor based on a Game of Thrones character! My concept of Norse mythology has now been updated!

    I second the audio idea!


  7. Thanks, Joyce! You may have read this by now, but in case anyone doesn’t know…

    While there are so many references in poetry to Odin, Hodur is one of those forgotten Norse gods about whom we still don’t know much. Popular opinion was that he was a blind warrior who could not do much harm because of his lack of sight…yet there is reason to believe he was much mightier than that. I liked the idea of a powerful godlike entity ‘cracking’ the beauty that he himself cannot witness.


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