Of writing life’s sonnet
   Date :01-Mar-2022

Madeleine LEngle
By Vijay Phanshikar :

“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet
- Madeleine L’Engle,
‘A Wrinkle in Time’
Of writing life’s sonnet PROFOUND and poetic! Rarely do we realise how difficult it is to fill a fixed form with sensible content. Rarely do we realise that the exercise calls for great poetic ability to choose the right turn of phrase, the right lilt, the right sound, the right lyricism ...! And that is so because a sonnet is a poem or a song -- circumscribed by 14 lines, of 10 syllables each, and a fixed pattern of rhyme. So many conditions of form! So many restrictions! So many rules! So many obligations to fulfill! And with almost no right to have expectations! One may tend to indulge in exaggeration, all right. But life does not generally appreciate that. That is difficult -- nay, impossible, almost! To fulfill all conditions and still not to harbour expectations, still not to indulge in exaggeration. For, if you harbour those, you are bound to meet with disappointment. And when that happens, the sonnet loses its charm -- sullied by setbacks, soiled by disenchantment or disillusionment.
Yet, every liver of life writes one’s own sonnet. Sometimes, it is lyrical, melodious, and even meditative. On other occasions, it is without a lilt or lyric -- stands soured by vagaries of experience. Yet, this sonnet has to be written -- by everybody, no matter the cost, notwithstanding the price. One has to find the right notes, of course, to write the lyrics and fit those in form defined by number of lines, number of syllables, and the fixed rhyme. The very thought can be daunting. Yet, all people who ever step into life try to write a beautiful sonnet out of their experience and expression. No doubt a risky business, that! Yet, it has its own charm, own warmth, own drama. To understand the real-life drama one has on offer, to know the right tricks of good life, to learn the right lessons -- from the experience of one’s own and that of others.
This is how life’s sonnet is to be embellished, to be made more meaningful, more melodious. Madeleine L’Engle, the famous American writer did no just stop after writing ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. She came up with a few sequels, too, to the book -- like ‘A Wind in the Door’, ‘A Swiftly Tilting Planet’, ‘Many Waters’, ‘An Acceptable Time’. She was known for deep thought, tinged by Christian faith, and often resorted to musical similes. Here, as she talks of the sonnet to be completed as an assignment of a lifetime -- that is of life and for life -- Madeleine L’Engle does not wish to circumscribe the liver’s freedom in any manner. Much to the contrary, she encourages him or her to go full distance to collect the material that would make the sonnet melodious. And she does not seem to leave things to what most call luck -- or good luck. She expects the liver of life to choose the right factors. That is where the key is -- to good life.