The Sonnets of Christopher Whitby

This site is under reconstruction. Meanwhile here are some links and sonnets.

Exfoliation: 37 original monologue sonnets, one for a character in each play in the First Folio, plus Pericles, performed by a small cast on YouTube viewable at Exfoliation Playlist.

Texts of the 37 sonnets and few extra are downloadable at Exfoliation Texts.

Making Chaucer Easy parts 1 & 2: a couple of videos on YouTube aimed at helping students overcome perceived difficulties with the language of Middle English (and maybe have a little fun too, trying different accents). Making Chaucer Easy.

Now some sonnets.
gif Check-Up

I am OK. No, really, life's a blast,
if that's what you still say these days. It's true
I do forget some things. The distant past
is clear as I could wish. It's just what's new,
what happened yesterday, last week, that's where
I come adrift, but is that any more
than simple ageing, all the wear and tear
of burning candles at both ends? I'm sure
it's nothing. Though there is... one tiny doubt.
You see, it's when I wake I don't recall,
some days, my leaving such a mess, clothes out,
the window open, marks along the wall.
And in my mouth a little blood. All fine,
but here's the thing. It doesn't taste like mine.

[Nemerov Award finalist 2009, first published in 'Measure' Vol V 2010]

gif Old Flame

For God's sake, Peter, look at me. Do I
still own the face you loved? I'm forty-two,
with children of my own. I don't know why
you've come... Oh no, oh not for them... If you
so much as dream of that, you can fu— fly
off back to Neverland for good. Make do
with what you've got — eternal youth. Just try
to come to terms with it. Just think it through.
I'm sorry, I'm not meaning to be rude
but face it, we were always worlds apart.
There is no meeting point. You just delude
yourself to think I'd keep you in my heart.
If all our thoughts were wishes, we'd still not make them rhyme.
Not growing up's your penance. Doing so is mine.

gif Party Frock

Give us a twirl,' I said and so she did
(thus marking out some territory — men
don't do twirls). Weaving straps and flounce she hid
herself behind the conjured image, then
with new-spun adult confidence enquired:
'You think?' 'You'll slay them all,' I said, not sure
if that was quite the answer she required
but sensing needs not prominent before.

Oh take it off! Put on your jeans again.
Let me be Mr Grumpkin still. In such
small acts I feel you slipping through the cup
my hands once made for you and hate it when
you bring me face to face with just how much
I want-admire-resent your growing up.

[First published in issue 6 of 14by14 October 2008]

gif Night Exercise

The night the soldiers came for him they had
their guns of course, but one bright soul had thought
to bring a spade, for if their man became
a frigging pain, they might perhaps be glad
of it when all the fun was gone. They caught
him in his bed, quite unaware his name
had been passed on by someone he'd once met.

There was, tonight, no time to rape his wife,
so where the wood curls round the valley's head
the questioning was rifle-butt hard. 'Now
dig,' they said at last, but with no hope of life,
he would not help them. So they shot him dead,
and dug, and covered him, and trod him down,
and hated him, because he'd made them sweat.

gif Lunacy

Among the frogs that friggle in our pond
there may well be a prince or two entranced
in a career break, and on the lake beyond,
perhaps a princess flapped her wings, then danced
again last night before she slipped away,
serene above and furious underneath.
And who can tell that for the length of one bright day
a whole new village won't adorn the heath.
Why not? For if imagination wills,
the mountains ought to move, and tales like these
beat in the blood. The reasoning that kills
our fears may hide the woods among the trees.

I only know that, as the sun sinks down,
I hear the wolves howl at the edge of town.

[First published in Blood Line, Blinking Eye Publishing 2007]

gif Cinders

To tell the truth, I tried quite hard to kick
the other one off, as I bolted free
to save my shame. I made it in the nick
of time, but, oh, my feet were killing me!
Glass slippers...for a ball! Who dreamed up that?
A long walk back as well, always in doubt
I'd beat the sisters home. Yet there I sat,
as if nothing had happened while they'd been out.
And then at last he came. You know the rest.
Except you don't. I have exchanged one cage
for another. Bigger, yes, but now I wage
small wars with courtiers over each request
and bound by protocol against my will,
I weep to find myself in service still.

Thank you for reading if you got this far.