Sonnet: Letter of wishes

Letter of wishes

When I am gone, do not lay me to rest
In some town-council cemetery: my bones
Would ache for all eternity, distressed
By unfamiliar soil and serried stones.
Don’t bury me at sea: I’ve no desire
For an afterlife with Davy Jones’s crew;
Nor box me up and feed me to the fire:
The planet doesn’t need my CO2.
No – take me to the woods. The trees will keep
A vigil, that you need not lose your years
In watching me. On rainy days, they’ll weep
For me, that your sweet eyes may know no tears.
But now, the sky is clearing. No more thought
Of this: there’s much to do – and time is short.


This came to me while I was walking the dog this morning. It was cold and raining, and the woods were ankle-deep in the special mud we have around here that manages to be both treacherously slippery and unbelievably sticky at the same time. I knew I wanted to write a sonnet: it started out, perhaps understandably, as a rather melancholy piece, but happily, I think it’s turned out rather upbeat. I guess the poem knew how it wanted to be written: all I had to do was stay out of the way.

13 thoughts on “Sonnet: Letter of wishes

    • Thank you – I’ve had a quick look at your blog and like what I’ve seen so far. I’m a big fan of metrical forms: I’ve only managed one sestina so far and it nearly killed me. The ballade (with an ‘e’) is a tough nut to crack, too…

  1. Hi Nick
    this is a very moving poem, ” that your sweet eyes may know no tears ” is love alright.
    Is it not great to have a dog to walk! 🙂 and think of poems as wonderful as this one!
    As you said, it started as a melancholy piece, but ended uplifting 🙂
    So little time, so much to do!
    Some poems just have a mind of their own!
    🙂 x

    • Thank you, Ina – I’m glad it turned out the way it did. Walking the dog is definitely my preferred way of getting my poetic thoughts in order: cycling is too intense and requires too much concentration for poems, although it’s sometimes quite effective for work-related stuff! This was a good lesson for me in worrying less and just letting the poem go its own way. Something I find really hard to do!

  2. This is wonderful Nick.

    And the fact that you wrote it this morning while out with your dog, somehow makes it feel like a freshly baked loaf of country bread! n I have really enjoyed my slice!! I don’t think any of it is sad or melancholy, but simply natural thoughts in a quiet moment.

    Beautiful! And yes – we have lots to do!!!x

    • Your comment is a poem in itself, Christine. I’m delighted, and humbled, to have my work compared to a ‘freshly baked loaf of country bread’- I shall treasure that always. I sometimes (often!) wonder why I’m doing this, but a response like this is all the reason I need to keep going. Thank you so much. N. x

  3. A very uplifting sonnet it is too Nick,

    Isn’t wonderful when we can take ourselves out of the way and let poems write themselves.

    All my best poems I am sure came directly from my muse to the page without bothering to touch the sides of my conscious mind!!!

    I too love the line “that your sweet eyes may know no tears” – beautiful


  4. Ah, Nick. A classic, classic sonnet. The lines are clear and beautiful: “By unfamiliar soil and serried stones” or
    “No – take me to the woods. The trees will keep
    A vigil, that you need not lose your years, but one of the interesting things is that at the turn of a Shakespearean sonnet, after the second quatrain, your craft takes a turn. Instead of each line being perfect in and of itself, your lines and their meaning start to run over:
    A vigil, that you need not lose your years
    In watching me,
    building toward the culminating lines at the end.
    While you are talking about death the lines are formal, perfect in their formality, but when you start to think about life and the formality that goes before and how your death and burial would affect you love–and by extension those who love you, your lines take on the irregularity and vitality of living, culminating in your final realization that: “there’s much to do – and time is short.”
    I love well done sonnets!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.