A sonnet upon sonnets

Fourteen, a sonneteer thy praises sings; What magic myst'ries in that number lie! Your hen hath fourteen eggs beneath her wings That fourteen chickens to the roost may fly. Fourteen full pounds the jockey's stone must be; His age fourteen - a horse's prime is past. Fourteen long hours too oft the Bard must fast; Fourteen bright bumpers - bliss he ne'er must see! Before fourteen, a dozen yields the strife; Before fourteen - e'en thirteen's strength is vain. Fourteen good years - a woman gives us life; Fourteen good men - we lose that life again. What lucubrations can be more upon it? Fourteen good measur'd verses make a sonnet.


Kate Dickie

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1788 and is read here by Kate Dickie.

More about this poem

This poem appears to have been the first attempt that Burns made at sonnet writing. The sonnet, popularised in English by Shakespeare, is a fourteen-line poem. The subject matter is the verse form itself.

Ralph McLean

Themes for this poem

poetry humour nature

Selected for 14 March

Fourteen for the 14th: a sonnet! Although he is no match for a Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton or Donne (and knows it), the poet appears thoroughly to delight in his own unpretentious ingenuity as he crafts each of the intricately wrought fourteen lines.

Donny O'Rourke

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