Work > Digital Sonnets

Selected from a collection of 154 Digital Sonnets.


When the sonnet came into English in the early modern period, a heightened sense and capacity for interiority developed through its close-packed poetic space. Attempts to represent internal psychological desires and contradictions began. Abstraction poses questions. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” is a question directed at the essential element of poetry and language, metaphor. What happens when I compare thee to a summer's day? How would my internal understanding of language and its relationship to experience and reality shift if I were to engage in such a metaphor? Hence, the experience of abstraction, linguistic or pictorial, causes us to interrogate the structures of imagination, borrowed or invented, that we use to construct reality. Every proposed analogy is itself a question about the nature of experience. In poetry, the sonnet form has persisted, remaining ever flexible and accessible in the hands of poets, who continue to develop the internal flux particular to the form. I wanted to see if I could translate the formal energies of the sonnet into visual abstraction (concrete poetry). I view these sonnets as wordless enactments of the structural variations possible in the form, considering number of lines and stanzas, meter, rhyme scheme, volta, etc. Leaning into the sometimes precise and sometimes hamfisted tools of a digital cloud-based word-processor (Google Doc), I have tried to go before the sonnet, to find its original energy and translate it for future sonneteers.

Nick Maurer

Idea: To the Reader of these Sonnets

Into these loves, who but for passion looks,
At this first sight here let him lay them by
And seek elsewhere in turning other books,
Which better may his labour satisfy.
No far-fetch'd sigh shall ever wound my breast;
Love from mine eye a tear shall never wring;
Nor in "Ah me's!" my whining sonnets drest:
A libertine, fantasticly I sing.
My verse is the true image of my mind,
Ever in motion, still desiring change;
And as thus to variety inclin'd,
So in all humours sportively I range:
My Muse is rightly of the English strain,
That cannot long one fashion entertain.