Documentation for All is dross...

SYNOPSIS: The presented poem is intended to fit into the oeuvre of the early English Sonnet, similar to those written or translated by Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Developed in Italy, the sonnet was brought back to England in the early sixteenth century by Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. These two would be the first to experiment with the style in English, and from there, the style would spread to the works and practices of other courtiers and artists.

The English sonnet is a standard poetic form of 14 lines generally following this rhyme scheme:

abab cdcd efef gg

When first introduced, the English sonnet was more mutable than it would later be.. In the stricter forms of the sonnet, the rhyme scheme, rhythm, placement of the volta (or, point at which the poem would “turn”), and even the number of poetic feet (in the case of the sonnet, usually 5 iambs) are far more stringently defined than in the earliest examples.

Sir Thomas Wyatt's work has been noted as not true to the form later used by William Shakespeare, and simply counting the syllables of the lines in sonnets such as The Lover for Shamefastness Hideth His Desire Within His Faithful Heart (1) will indicate to a reader that there are certainly lines lacking iambic pentameter perfection. The practice was noted even in its day; in his treaty on the properest way to compose verse, George Gascoigne wrote:
I say then, remember to holde the same measure wherwith you begin, whether it be in a verse of sixe syllables, eight, ten, twelve, &c. and though this precept might seeme ridiculous unto you, since every yong scholler can conceive that he ought to continue in tine same measure wherwith he beginneth, yet do I see and read many mens Poems now adayes, whiche beginning with the measure of xii. in the first line, & xiiii. in the second (which is the common kinde of verse) they wil yet (by that time they have passed over a few verses) fal into xiiii. & fourtene, & sic de similibus, the which is either forgetfulnes or carelesnes. (2)

This poem is intended to emulate these earlier forms of the English sonnet, when the rules were a bit more flexible. While Gascoigne does, in fact, have something to say about the sonnet form, he also points out that many of the poets--and poetry readers--called many different sorts of short poems "sonnet."
...then have you Sonnets, some thinke that all Poemes (being short) may be called Sonets, as in deede it is a diminutive worde derived of Sonare, but yet I can beste allowe to call those Sonets whiche are of fouretene lynes, every line conteyning tenne syllables. The firste twelve do ryme in staves of foure lines by crosse meetre, and the last twoo ryming togither do conclude the whole. There are Dyzaynes, & Syxaines which are of ten lines, and of sixe lines, commonly used by the French, which some English writers do also terme by the name of Sonettes. (3)

Indeed, the form is being developed in the early sixteenth century, and the sonnet presented here is intended to fit into an era in which the imperfect example might still be enjoyed. Truly, its imperfections might have been unnoticed.


(1) Sir Thomas Wyatt died in 1542; he left behind a notable body of poetry composed over the course of the reign of Henry VIII. Many examples of his work can be found here.

(2) & (3) from Certayne notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse or ryme in English, written at the request of Master Edouardo Donati (1575) by George Gascoigne. This was the first treatise on poetic construction in English. An online version may be found here.

Merouda Pendray lives in the Kingdom of Northshield.